There’s one important thing Colts must find out before they start Anthony Richardson

NFLPA Rookie Premiere Portrait Session
NFLPA Rookie Premiere Portrait Session / Michael Owens/GettyImages

The Indianapolis Colts are trying to figure out when they’ll start quarterback Anthony Richardson, and there’s one important factor for that decision.

Since the Indianapolis Colts selected Anthony Richardson with the No. 4 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the main question everyone has been asking is when will Indy start Richardson? Will he be the Week 1 starter, or will the Colts wait a couple of games before starting him? Is it possible that Indianapolis could redshirt Richardson and leave him on the sidelines for the entrieity of his rookie season?

The last option seems the most unlikely, especially since team owner Jim Irsay has pretty much guaranteed that Richardson will be playing as a rookie. Irsay was adamant that young QBs need to play to get better but said he would defer to head coach Shane Steichen for when Richardson will get his first start.

Steichen’s decision will likely be largely impacted by what Richardson does this offseason. While early reports are that Richardson has been impressive, Steichen will probably throw everything at the young quarterback this offseason, to see if he’s prepared to start in Week 1.

While Richardson’s skill, development, and knowledge of the playbook will be the biggest factors on when Indy decides to start him, there is one other important question the Colts will have to ask before they put Richardson on the field. That question is: is the roster, and other players on the field, ready to support the growth of a young quarterback?

Colts must be able to support Anthony Richardson when he takes the field

Richardson is a first-year quarterback, and his transition to the NFL will be a bumpy road regardless. Indianapolis should be focused on if it can adequately support Richardson while he grows through his ups and downs. That means providing a solid on-field infrastructure for the young QB.

Last season, the Colts didn’t have that offensively. Indy’s offensive line was horrible. As a result, Indianapolis had an inconsistent run game and allowed 60 sacks, the second-most in the NFL last season. That’s a huge reason why Matt Ryan’s play was so bad and also why Indy only won four games.

The only good thing that came out of the situation was being in position to draft Anthony Richardson. However, it would be negligence to put a rookie Richardson behind a line of that caliber. His athleticism would allow him to escape some sacks, but he won’t be able to develop if he’s running for his life all game, every game.

So while the Colts may be in a hurry to get Richardson on the field, they must make sure that they can provide him with a stable environment. Indy doesn’t suddenly have to play like the best team in the league, the Colts just need to reasonably protect their young QB and have the weapons that can help him out. If Indy can’t at least do that at an average level, they may be better off leaving Richardson on the sideline until they can. Otherwise, the Colts run the risk of ruining a talented young quarterback.