This isn’t the only news to come from the Colts today. The team announced that tight end Dwayne Allen will need surgery on his hip, ending his season. Allen will join running back Vick Ballard and left guard Donald Thomas on injured reserve.
The Colts will now have two of the top three picks from the 2012 NFL Draft with this trade. In his rookie season, Richardson had 950 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.
The general consensus with this trade is that the Colts got the better end of the deal (Madden 25 will deny this trade). What we have heard out of the Browns camp is that Richardson is a diva who lobbies for carries and has a lot of things to figure out before he becomes a star. To me, this sounds a lot like the typical talk you would hear from a locker room bitter that a player was traded.
It is a surprising move by a Cleveland franchise that appeared to be using Richardson as a feature player in their rebuild (or continued building, or whatever, they haven’t been good for awhile). He came to Cleveland by way of the University of Alabama, an organization that knows something about winning.
Like any deal, there are pros and cons to this move.
- Richardson is a beast of a running back and will likely be a feature running back in the NFL. It gives the Colts a potent three-headed offensive monster with along with Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne. Richardson may very well be the Colts long term answer at running back, not unlike Edgerrin James was to Peyton Manning.
- Ahmad Bradshaw should still be the starter, allowing Richardson to ease into the offense over the next couple weeks. It should spawn a healthy competition between the two running backs for the top spot. Bradshaw is a good back for Richardson to learn from as well. He is fairly average as a pass blocker, having come from Alabama where they rarely pass, but he can learn from Bradshaw who is exceptional at blocking.
- The play action becomes deadly. Richardson is a dangerous running back and teams have to respect his abilities. His running abilities will open up play action passes and allow the Colts to take some shots downfield.
- Richardson might be a bit of a head case. Last season he was benched when the Browns played the Colts for what appeared to be a lack of effort. Its hard to gauge any of his time with the Browns, because…well,they’re the Browns. They don’t have a very good QB in Brandon Weeden, and most teams would focus on stopping the run.
- This further emphasizes the power run game philosophy that the Colts have been attempting. What is the point of having a QB like Luck if the team is going to run the ball all the time? The NFL is built for teams to win by passing the ball. This isn’t the 1970s anymore and most teams don’t even have a feature back. It doesn’t matter if you have one running back rack up over a thousand yards, or two. Yards don’t change, and a single back can get worn down over the course of a season.
- The trade feels like an overcorrection after the recent rash of injuries. The Colts would have been fine with just Bradshaw and Donald Brown at running back. Trading for Richardson gives up a first round pick the Colts could have spent on a defensive player in next years draft. If the Colts want to fix a problem on this team, they should have made a trade for someone on defense.
- The Colts should compensate by lining up three wide receiver (uh, TY Hilton anyone?) and pass to set up the run game. It seems that the coaching staff is hell bent on running the offense a specific way, and refuses to play to their strengths. Chuck Pagano even mentioned getting Hilton more involved in the passing game recently, so why not move ahead with that plan?
- The problem with the running game isn’t who’s carrying the ball, its the offensive line. Losing Thomas certainly doesn’t help the line, mainly because it prevents rookie Hugh Thornton from taking over the right guard spot from Mike “Cardboard Cutout” McGlynn. Unless Richardson can break four tackles by defensive linemen at once, or has the strength to carry multiple defenders on his back at once, his success will be limited.
Despite the long list of cons, the Colts still come out ahead in this deal. I have a philosophical issue with this trade, believing that the Colts should pass the ball more often.
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