We've all had time to absorb the franchise-defining trade that went down on Wednesday. Several very talented writers have weighed in on which team "won" the deal, and whether or not Trent Richardson will help the Indianapolis Colts win football games now and in the near future.
Many of you have asked me what my take is on the trade. My answer: I don't know.
Sure, that might read like a cop out, especially since another Colts blog like Colts Authority is pretty much 100% against the move. The man many people like to paint as my online nemesis, former Bleacher Report writer Nate Dunlevy, also did not take the news of the trade well:
I have no words for my contempt for this trade.— Nate Dunlevy (@NateDunlevy) September 18, 2013
Ole Nate even even took a shot or two at Colts general manager Ryan Grigson for swinging this deal:
Not sure Grigson does. RT @ThomasGower: Joe Banner understands how you win games in the NFL and what is and is not valuable.— Nate Dunlevy (@NateDunlevy) September 18, 2013
Look, I don't know who Nate thinks he is, but I'm the online cowboy who takes the shots at Ryan Grigson around these parts! No one else. Got it!
Despite the venom in Nate's tweets - venom I like, I might add - his reasons for not feeling warm and gooey inside about this trade are, indeed, quite logical. They make sense. I totally get where he's coming from.
Funny thing is, the reasons for the trade also make sense.
Add into this mix that the Colts' owner, general manager, and head coach genuinely believe this team is championship caliber. If you or Nate or anyone else disagree with them on that, that's fine. But, you can't dismiss it.
When the people in charge believe in something, the moves they make will reflect those beliefs. The team lost starting running back Vick Ballard and tight end Dwayne Allen to injuries in one week. Those types of loses are very difficult to overcome IF you believe the team you are running is championship-caliber.
Thus, enter Trent Richardson. His addition offsets the subtraction of Allen and Ballard.
Then there is the ambivalence regarding Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton's mutual obsession with running the football. Pagano tried to convey to the media on Tuesday - in a presser the day before the Richardson trade went down - that he knows teams have to throw to win. But, the fact of the matter is the Colts have the 19th ranked passing attack in the NFL.
The question I keep coming back to is, how does adding Richardson help the passing game? The answer I keep getting back is, by establishing the run more.
This doesn't make sense to me.
Running the ball doesn't establish a team's passing game anymore. It hasn't for some time. This is 2013. Not 1993.
However, as Matt noted in his article, the Colts passing attack could improve if they have more success with play action. Luck has developed into a very good play faker, and when the play action pass is working to pull in linebackers who are worried about Richardson and the run game, it opens up big plays for receivers like T.Y. Hilton.
There's also Richardson's ability to catch the ball and pass block. Both skills are very good.
In the end, the success of this trade will come down to how well Richardson performs on the field. If he runs for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, it will be viewed as a "win" for the Colts. If he has the same type of production he had in Cleveland last year, the Colts and Ryan Grigson will take a bit of heat for giving up a first rounder.
The angle that I personally find fascinating when breaking down this trade is the showmanship of Jim Irsay. Prior to Wednesday, all anyone wanted to talk about was the stagnate Colts offense, Pagano's floundering defense, and the injuries that crippled the Colts' roster. After Wednesday, it was RAH-RAH-TRENT! RAH-RAH-TRENT!
That's genius showmanship by Irsay. Genius.
So, if you ask me, as an NFL writer, if I love the Richardson trade, my answer to you is YES! OH HELL YES! This is something fun to write about. Trades are fun! Bold roster moves are entertaining, and this has been one helluva season for bold roster moves. Beats the hell out of having to listen to Bill Polian talk about how the team has big plans for Mike Pollak.
However, as someone who spends hours studying and evaluating this Colts team, I honestly don't know if this trade helps them. This is one of the few times where you will see me punt on an opinion, girls and boys.
What I do know is that if Richardson doesn't help the Colts win more football games, the job security for Ryan Grigson and Chuck Pagano will change. This was a career-defining move for Grigson, and Pagano has already taken a bit of heat this season for the Colts 1-1 start. The owner clearly expects big things from this team, and if Grigson and Pagano don't deliver, you will hear more grumbling from inside the Colts complex.
For now, the fun part is the anticipation. Will Richardson be good? Will he make a big impact?
The first test is Sunday at 4:25 p.m. ET against the 49ers.