The Cleveland Browns have gone 3-0 since they traded Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts. That Cleveland's improvement has more to do with their change at quarterback (Brian Hoyer had started all three of those games over Brandon Weeden) is not likely something that Browns fans are going to notice.
To many of them, Cleveland winning is a direct result of Richardson getting shipped out.
Perhaps lost in the silliness is the fact that Indianapolis is 2-0 since the trade, and has done so by mercilessly smashing the football at opposing defenses with Richardson and their running game. The Colts have averaged 170.5 rushing yards a game since Richardson was brought to Indy, with T-Rich averaging 47.5 yards in those games. He's also scored two touchdowns, one in each game. Indianapolis' offense scored only 20 points in each of their first two games. Since the Richardson trade, they've averaged 32 points per game.
Yes, I know one of the Colts' wins post-Richardson trade was against the lowly Jaguars, but the other one was against the 49ers, in their building no less. Indy dropped 27 points on them to go with 184 yards rushing.
However, even though Richardson has clearly made an strong impact not just with the Colts rushing attack but in pass protection as well, the reality is that his 2.9 yards-per-carry average simply isn't good.
"Elite" players earn more than 2.9 a carry.
In his weekly power rankings article, Patrick Daughtery of Rotoworld did a great job analyzing why Richardson's yards-per-carry is so low. I encourage you to go there and check out the article.
On of the people Daughtey believes is responsible for Richardson's low yards-per-carry is Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Daughtery says in the article that Hamilton is "getting too cute" with his run blocking schemes.
The same schemes that have the Colts No. 4 overall in the league in rushing, I might add.
Hamilton himself addressed the media on Thursday, and he discussed how Richardson has bought into the schemes they are trying to run in Indy:
He's bought into the fact that it's going to be a grind, to just be patient, continue to chip away, burrow, and find a crease. Strain for the positive yards, and in time the long runs will come.
Hamilton also said he has to remind Richardson that the offense isn't looking for big runs, necessarily. "Investing in the body punches," as Hamilton calls it. Two, three, and four yard runs are viewed as positives for this offense.
However, Hamilton did state that he hopes, eventually, that things will open up and Richardson will pop a few long runs.
Though we often make it a point here at Stampede Blue that yards-per-carry is an overrated stat (because it is), the reality is that if Richardson is going to be considered an elite player, he's going to have to average over 4 a carry. The positive is that he does have the talent and the work ethic to become such a player.
The Colts face the Seahawks on Sunday, and their No. 18 ranked rushing defense, which allowed Arian Foster and Ben Tate of the Texans to chew them up last week to the tune of 179 rushing yards. Richardson is a better player than Foster and Tate, and the Colts rushing attack is better than the Texans so far this year. This is also Richardson's first game at home as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. In Lucas Oil Stadium. On fast turf.
This is yet another game where Richardson can, perhaps, shut up his critics and do what he was drafted to do: Dominate a football game.