Hello fellow Colts fans!
Since the "The Curious Case of Trent Richardson" article was a blast around here, I figured maybe you guys could use another Trent Richardson article. This time around, this very article will consist observations and thoughts in regards to Trent Richardson from a Texans fan (and some other fans of other teams).
Now let's get started and hopefully, we'll pick up something or two about it all, smirk, and grow excited with the idea of Trent Richardson as a running back for the Colts for time to come.
User Barian_Fostate from /r/NFL at Reddit.com brought up some thoughts about former Texans head coach, Gary Kubiak, as a possible candidate for an offensive coordinator for the Browns. I wanted to start with this because it will lead to something very interesting. Anyways, I'll copy and paste his thoughts right below:
What I personally find ironic about this potential pairing is how the running game will be effected. Kubiak's system relies on having a running back who is a pure "zone runner". He needs someone who excels at reading slower developing blocks with patience, someone who has excellent hands and can pass protect, someone who got drafted in the top five by being extremely successful in a similar stretch-stretch-boot action scheme...someone like Trent Richardson. Cleveland tried to force their stud one cut runner into a power scheme, traded him to the Colts who are also trying to force him into a power scheme (and failing), and are now poised to run one of the only offenses that Richardson could be truly dominant in. How perfectly Browns.
And then another user, a Bengals fan, decided to challenge the above statement with his own thoughts:
I think Trent's problems are more than just scheme. He has slow feet, but I think the words 'patience' and 'vision' may be a very charitable way of describing him.
And this is Barian_Fostate's reply:
His patience and vision go out the window when asked to run power, but he's perfectly fine in zone. Fun fact: when they wanted to close the game out against the Chiefs in week 16, they brought in Richardson and ran zone stretches seven times a row. SEVEN. I think they know now that he can't do power, and that their insistence on forcing that was a huge mistake. When it counted most they ran zone because they know that's what he does, and if Coby Fleener could block worth a damn he would have probably broken a couple too. It cannot be understated how much they missed Dwayne Allen on that team.
Learned a thing or two? Getting a big picture of Dwayne Allen blocking for Trent Richardson next season? Getting another big picture of Trent Richardson blocking (or catching, or running) for Andrew Luck on third downs? Getting a big picture of Trent Richardson being Marshawn Lynch 2.0? Squealed in excitement like a little school girl?
I have more observations that I would like to bring to the table. This time, a Ravens fan replied to Barian_Fostate and attempted to combat that argument by suggesting that any good to great running back should be versatile in any scheme. Here it is right below:
Any running back taken in the first round SHOULD be able to do either though. I mean should but that doesn't seem to be the case with Trent. It just seems like he has no instincts whatsoever. "Run to daylight" really isn't a hard concept to grasp, is it?
Of course, here is Barian_Fostate's reply:
No, that is not a requirement for getting taken in the first. If you run a zone scheme and a great zone runner is sitting there, you take him. Don't try to justify letting him slip to the second just because he's not effective in power. That's why guys like Lacy slip to the Packers in the second, he carries them to the playoffs, and everyone goes "Oh gosh I guess he should have been a first round pick".
So, a Ravens fan challenged the above thought with his own:
Yeah, I don't know if I agree with that. We don't know how well Lacy would have done in a primarily power blocking scheme, so saying he wouldn't have performed well behind, for example, the 49ers offensive line is unknowable at this point.
In terms of body, athleticism, speed, elusiveness, and all other measurable aspects, both Lacy and Richardson have the ability to be downhill runners, regardless of blocking scheme.
That's one reason why they pay scouts, to make reasonable projections on how a player will fit in various schemes. There are many players that make the leap from one scheme in college to something completely different in the pros. T-Rich shouldn't be given a free pass because he wasn't able to.
And here is Barian_Fostate's reply to above thought:
That's the line of thinking that gets running backs to be busts. People look at the physical attributes and say "this guy can be a power back because he's big", but 95% of being a running back is vision. Either you have the kind of vision that it takes to run in a gap scheme, or you have the vision to run in a zone scheme. They are two completely different things. Ray rice, for example, is completely lost in zone because he doesn't have the patience for it. He's a power runner not because he's strong, but because that is how his brain is wired. He attacks the hole and figures out the garbage later. Richardson doesn't. He likes watching things develop in space and making a single cut. It's a drastically different style, and assuming that just because he's powerful is why he should work in power is what makes these guys busts. Scheme is ALWAYS the most important aspect to player success. Always.
This is why, fellow Colts fans, I'm not ready to declare Richardson as a bust just yet. In fact, I think 80% of his success is now on the shoulders of Chuck Pagano and Pep Hamilton. Can they adjust the line? Or even, will they adjust the line to suit Richardson's strengths? I believe they will do so, based on what was said earlier in this post. Essentially, with our first pick gone, Richardson's on the roster, AFC South defenses improving during this off season with new coaches, schemes, etc, the Colts literally have no choice.
So, a '9er fan decided to jump with his own thoughts on Richardson:
Because they made the same mistake that Cleveland did and assumed they could make it work.
And Plenty of RBs are one scheme guys. Many drafted highly can only run in one scheme. Perhaps not at 3rd overall. But this is the same FO that drafted Brandon Weedon at 22 overall.
But Trent has unreal physical capabilities, and amazing vision in a zone scheme. He just has no idea how to hit holes in power. He wants to sit and wait for the hole to open in front of him and you just can't do that in power.
And so, when I replied and explained my optimism about Richardson, he said something that I agreed with:
You know that TD run trent had against the Jags? that was a zone scheme.
If you guys can flip over to a zone scheme he'll work wonders I'm almost sure of it. The problem is that your HC and your OC are both huge power guys. Pep Hamilton worked with Harbaugh while he put in one of the heaftiest power run games in college football. It's possible for you to switch, but it might be hard given who's running your offense.
So, a Browns fan gave his two cents on the concept of power running backs:
Did you just refer to Richardson as a "one cut runner"? He is pure power. The guy may make one cut, but 90% of the time it is the wrong cut straight into a pack that he powers through.
Barian_Fostate explained the concept of power scheme and power running backs better than I could ever explain myself. I thought he gave a good idea to everyone on what it is. Here it is below:
There is a difference between running with power, and being successful in a "power" scheme. Power run plays are called power because they involve a pulling linemen or other blocker to overwhelm and outnumber one side of the defense with "power", not because the running back is a powerful human being. That is a common misconception.
And that will wrap up the article, fellow Colts fans!
Hopefully, you've learned a thing or two about running schemes and Trent Richardson.
Thank you for reading this article that I wanted to share with everyone, especially to you fellow Colts fans. When I read through these discussions about Richardson, I felt very optimistic that I no longer doubted Grigson, Pagano, and Hamilton. Actually, I'm 100% sure they knew what they were doing when they reached for Richardson with their 1st pick of the draft. Well, I figured maybe I could share that to everyone around here in the best manner as I could.
In Grigson, Pagano, and Pep We Trust!