Colts tight end Coby Fleener got a bit defensive Friday during a sit-down with NFL.com's Around The League. No, it wasn't anything damning, but it's the kind of stuff that personally annoys me about Fleener.
During a conversation with the former Stanford tight end, who is in New York functioning as a member of the media while working for Peter King MMQB's website, the ATL staff brought up the fact that Fleener's teammate Trent Richardson averaged 3 yards-a-carry in 2013 despite the Colts giving up a first round pick in an October trade with the Browns for his services. Fleener seemed to take offense to the second-year back's play being categorized as disappointing.
Richardson, for brief moments, flashed strength and raw power last season, but too often he was painfully hesitant in the backfield. The runner rarely broke into open space, but Fleener quickly dismissed the idea that Richardson's play was a disappointment.
"Let me stop you right there," the pass-catcher told ATL. "I think part of it is you're coming into an offense that's probably one of the most complex in the NFL. And so for him to play a week after being there was impressive because it took me a year and a half to learn the offense. I think this camp will do him a lot of good, and then you guys can judge him after that."
OK, I think we can all agree that Richardson will benefit from an offseason of learning and understanding Pep Hamilton's offense. However, the criticism-sensitive Fleener is being a bit silly here. I'll admit that my opinion on this is colored by the perception that Fleener doesn't seem to like it when people write articles critical of his play, or the play of his teammates, even if those articles are littered with facts justifying the criticism.
In case you, or Mr. Fleener, don't know, it's kind of the media's job to be critical. If media aren't, they're likely doing public relations. If you watch the video Fleener made at the Super Bowl Media Day for MMQB, you can see an excellent example of such P.R. work.
NFL players are notoriously snippy at people who write anything critical, even if the facts are undeniable. Facts like, say, Richardson having a disappointing year in 2013.
The Colts, and their front office, did not send Cleveland a first rounder for a back they expected to rush for 3-a-carry. That's just not something that's debatable for anyone. Well, anyone but Coby Fleener:
"I still think it was a great trade for us," Fleener told Around The League on Friday. "Our front office has done an awesome job putting together teams from Day One. I think that acquisition is going to be huge for us and pay dividends in the future."
I understand that, maybe, Fleener's motives were to defend/standup for his teammate, but, come on. There are limits. Perhaps the old "I can tell you Trent's more disappointed in his season than anyone else" line might have been more appropriate here, at least for my taste. It's the kind of line that Fleener wrote a whole article about on MMQB, detailing how players can never truly answer questions for fear it will piss someone off.
However, a statement that shouldn't ruffle any feathers is Trent Richardson was a disappointment in 2013.
Well, everyone but Coby Fleener's, it seems.