The Indy Star’s Gregg Doyel recently asked Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, as to why Trent Richardson is still the starting running back for the Colts. His answer was, because he simply is:
It appears the Colts’ brass either no longer feels the need to explain the situation or perhaps, they’re simply tired of all of the questions. Richardson is coming off one of his worst games as an Indianapolis Colt, in which he rushed 8 times for 12 total rush yards and a dismal 1.5 average yards per carry.
Nov 30, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano coaches on the sidelines against the Washington Redskins at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeated Washington 49-27. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
On the other hand, his running back counterpart, 2nd-year Dan “Boom” Herron, has shown much more burst and big-play ability in his rushing opportunities. This is leading many to question as to why Richardson and Herron continue to split carries, when the latter has been clearly more effective. For instance, last Sunday, Herron rushed 8 times for 88 total rushing yards and 11.0 ypc, including a 49-yard long touchdown run.
It’s not that Richardson can’t be useful. On the contrary, if used situationally in the passing game and in short yardage, he can be an asset at running back.
According to ProFootballFocus, his +2.5 in pass blocking is the best on the team among running backs, significantly ahead of Herron who is at -0.3. If protecting the franchise in #12 is one of the main goals, he certainly helps. To be fair, he’s always shined in this area, and that’s where Chuck Pagano and the Colts should play him primarily. In truth, it places him in the best opportunity to succeed going forward. There’s no need to force the issue on a contending playoff team.
However, by giving him 8-10 carries a game, simply to give someone else carries besides Herron isn’t working. Richardson hasn’t been particularly effective in the ground game, only averaging 3.3 yards per carry on the season. Whether it’s now 3rd-string running back Zurlon Tipton or someone else, it’s worth kicking the tires on another running back to see if they can muster more than 3.3 yards per carry on rushing attempts. Otherwise, it’s simply a wasted down for Richardson and the Colts.
Nov 30, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) hands the ball off to running back Trent Richardson (34) during a game against the Washington Redskins at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis defeated Washington 49-27. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports