Trent has been one of the most hotly debated players in Colts' circles throughout the year. He is a massively talented player that joined the team two games into the season and has quickly become the target of massive disappointment. A few articles recently have cited Richardson's unfamiliarity with the offense has a major reason for his lackluster results. Fortunately Marshawn Lynch's 2010 campaign provides a precedent and a means by which to benchmark.
Tale of the Tape
Marshawn Lynch - 5' 11" 215lbs age 24 (at time of trade.)
Trent Richardson - 5' 9" 228lbs age 23.
Both backs were fairly young and big powerful runners. Both have solid hands out of the backfield and good blocking ability. Overall, the skill set is a decent match. I think Lynch is what many of us hope for when we look at Richardson.
Pre-Trade Stat Pack
Marshawn Lynch per game (45 games)
Rushing - 15.3 attempts. 61.4 ypg. .38TD per game. 4.0 ypc.
Receiving - 2.1 rec. 14.9 ypg. .02TD per game
Trent Richardson per game (17 games)
Rushing - 17.5 attempts. 62.1 ypg. .65TD per game. 3.5 ypc.
Receiving - 3.4 rec. 24.6 ypg. .06TD per game.
Richardson got a bit more work on a per game basis in Cleveland than Lynch did in Buffalo. However, Lynch obviously had more total carries since he was there much longer. Lynch did more with his carries than did Richardson, though Trent got in the end zone more frequently. Should be noted both played on poor offenses, but Cleveland's o-line was probably a bit better. Richardson was a bit better catching passes as well.
Trade Year Stats
Marshawn Lynch per game (12 games)
Rushing - 13.8 attempts. 47.8 ypg. .50TD per game. 3.5 ypc.
Receiving - 1.8 rec. 11.5 ypg. 0TD per game
Trent Richardson per game (14 games)
Rushing - 11.2 attempts. 32.7 ypg. .21TD per game. 2.9 ypc.
Receiving - 2.0 rec. 18.9 ypg. .07TD per game.
Both players saw a sizable drop off when being traded from their old team to their new one. Lynch was a better player than Richardson prior to being traded and remained so afterward. However, the relative drop is comparable though Richardson's utilization fell more significantly. The question is then how much recovery can we expect when Richardson gets his head around the offense.
And then came the Beast-quake...
Marshawn Lynch per game (47 games)
Rushing - 19.2 attempts. 86.2 ypg. .74TD per game. 4.5 ypc.
Receiving - 1.9 rec. 15.4 ypg. .11TD per game
Marshawn Lynch exploded in the playoffs against New Orleans after his first year in Seattle. That was really the turning point for both he and the franchise. In three seasons since then he has added a full yard per carry to his average and his carries increase by 40%. Total production was up by over 75%! This surpasses anything he was able to accomplish while in Buffalo.
What's Next for Trent?
Hopefully, Trent has a similar earth-moving breakthrough in the post season. Even short of that, what would reasonable to assume for his production in coming years? He clearly is not on par with Lynch, but we can scale the statistics accordingly given the similarities.
Trent Richardson per game projections.
Rushing - 15.6 attempts. 60.7 ypg. .31TD per game. 3.9 ypc.
Receiving - 2.5 rec. 26.5 ypg. .10TD per game.
Richardson's sample size is small and Indy's o-line clearly has a long way to go toward improving, so take these with the appropriate quantity of salt. However, assuming a 40% increase in usage and a 1 ypc increase in yardage seems to be the benchmark. The numbers aren't exactly awe-inspiring. Richardson's production prior to and during his trade year have significantly lagged Lynch's. The parallel in relative drop off during that first year is somewhat interesting though and gives at least some credence to the projection. I honestly, wasn't sure what I would come up with when I started writing, so I will let the numbers speak for themselves. At the very least it seems worth withholding judgement for another year.