Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson will be sidelined for some time after suffering a sprained AC joint during Indy’s Week 5 win over the Tennessee Titans. Although it was just the rookie’s fourth NFL game, it was his third injury. Richardson has only completed one NFL game of the four he’s started.
In Week 1, Richardson left very late in the fourth quarter with a knee bruise. In Week 2 Richardson sustained a concussion that also kept him out all of Week 3. He returned in Week 4, playing a complete game, but in Week 5, he sustained the injury to his throwing shoulder. All three injuries had something in common: they all came on designed quarterback runs.
In Week 1, the bruised knee came as Richardson took on two defenders near the goal line. The concussion came on a touchdown run, when Richardson was pushed into the end zone, causing the back of his head to hit the field. The sprained AC joint came on a run where Richardson was tackled by two defenders.
With this quickly becoming a theme in Anthony Richardson’s young career, it’s fair to ask if the Colts should continue running Anthony Richardson once he returns from the most recent injury.
Should Colts avoid running Anthony Richardson to keep him healthy?
Obviously, keeping Richardson healthy is priority No. 1. However, making sure he excels and contributes to winning is equally important. Utilizing his running ability is a part of that. Throughout the draft process, the things that made Richardson a special prospect with the highest ceiling of all the quarterbacks were his otherworldly athleticism and rocket arm.
Richardson’s mobility is his superpower; it’s a big reason why he has been so promising when he has been on the field during his short NFL career. Sure, he has been good from the pocket, much better than expected at this stage of his development, but it’s the dual-threat ability that makes him such a problem for the league. In just 173 snaps, Richardson has thrown for 577 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception, while rushing for 136 yards and four touchdowns.
So to the original question of whether the Colts should stop running Richardson or not to keep him healthy, the answer is no. They can’t. Yes, everyone wants Richardson healthy, but what’s the point of having a talent like Richardson if you’re not going to utilize all of his abilities. If Richardson isn’t running, he wouldn’t be the same quarterback, and the offense wouldn’t look the same, even if he is as quarterback.
Richardson’s ability to run is what makes him special, so the Colts really don’t have much of a choice. There are definitely ways to be smart about it, from a play-calling standpoint and in how Richardson runs, but the truth of the matter is that injury is just an inherent risk for a player like Richardson, and football in general.