Colts general manager Ryan Grigson had his end of season wrap up press conference today, and he talked extensively about what many consider to be his worst move from the past season, the trade for running back Trent Richardson and giving up their first round pick to do so.
"We have patience," Grigson said of Richardson. "He's not going anywhere. We have him for the long haul. We don't win 12 games this year if Trent Richardson isn't here. That's just a fact. We had a guy get hurt, our starter get hurt and the mindset here is we are not going to just go reach for a guy. We want to go out and get the best available guy, not just the best guy, we are going to go to the hill to get the best we can. I think Trent fits all the things that we are trying to do here."
"If it isn't this year, it's going to be next year because he's going to have the offseason. He's going to be dialed in as a pro. He's going to have his life in order. Chuck (Pagano) and all of us know that with a year under his belt, you are going to see a different player."
Grigson's point that he is making is that if the Colts hadn't traded for Trent Richardson, their running back situation would have been bad. Well, guess what - it still was bad. Donald Brown did a tremendous job keeping the position afloat, not Trent Richardson. There is only one game that I feel you could even make a case for Richardson being a part of the reason the Colts won (week 15 vs. the Texans) and even then I'm not sure. Grigson's statement? I don't believe it, and it certainly isn't a "fact," like Grigson says that it is. I've seen people joking about how Grigson is actually right saying that the Colts don't win 12 games without Richardson - they've joked that if the Colts didn't have him, they might have won 13 games or so (at least I think they're joking). I don't necessarily think that is the case, but the fact that people are even saying that says something. Ryan Grigson said that it's a "fact" that the Colts wouldn't have won 12 games without Trent Richardson this year. I say that it is a fact that they still would have. Why? Two words: Andrew Luck. He's the reason the Colts won 12 games this year - certainly not the player who I said was the biggest disappointment for the Colts this year.
Grigson was asked why Richarsdon struggled this season and Grigson said that "to be honest, I think it comes down to confidence." There is no doubt that Richardson struggled this season and Grigson didn't try to deny that fact and instead preached patience with his running back who just finished his second year in the league. Grigson was asked if it's hard to be patient with how much the media has criticized the move to give up a first round pick, and he responded by saying that, "I know that's going to be the media's job to every week point at this because it's such a, from your perspective it's such a bold and aggressive move and so forth.
"But really from a football standpoint, without going into such great detail because we've been over it a thousand times, from a football standpoint, we needed a starting running back," Grigson continued. "Trent was made available. I've never talked to a person in football, scout, coach, that didn't have a great comparison to another great back when they did him coming out, that didn't think he was going to be a special back. He's going to have his detractors because of course you want him to come in and set the world on fire."
Grigson then began talking about how Richardson actually helped the team this season. "He played a valuable role for us this year," the Colts general manager said. "He kind of did it in reverse. He showed such promise on third down and he can go and hit a backer flush in the pocket and stand him up in the A-gap at the line of scrimmage and not give any ground. There's a lot of backs that can't do that. He functioned for us well this year. I know he's not satisfied and I'm glad he's not, but that's why we have him here for the long haul. It was very economically wise as a franchise to make the move, given where we are going with the run game. We are happy with Trent. We have a level of patience obviously different than the media and fans understand." Also, Grigson argued, the trade was something that the team really needed, saying that the trade "re-charged us when we were kind of down" and that the following game where the Colts beat the 49ers 27-7 was one of the best games they have played since Grigson has been here.
As much as I could argue about Richardson producing this year, I'll give him this: the trade did re-energize the team. There is no doubt about it. The Colts won a close game in week one at home against a Raiders team that wasn't supposed to be very good and then lost in week two to the Dolphins at home. They were a very unimpressive 1-1 and heading to San Francisco to play the 49ers - without their starting running back, who had torn his ACL in practice following the week one win. Then the Colts traded for Richardson, and it did indeed energize the team in that following game.
Regardless of how Grigson wants to point out the ways that Richardson succeeded, he failed in the most fundamental and primary role for a running back: running the football. You don't give up a first round pick for a running back to come in and pass block and be a third down runner. You just don't. He averaged only 2.9 yards per carry and, including playoffs, ran for just 32 more yards and one less touchdown on 90 more carries as a Colt this year than quarterback Andrew Luck did. And speaking of playoffs, Richardson received only 4 carries in two games and gained just 1 total yard and lost a fumble. I don't care what Ryan Grigson says about how Richardson did well this year - you can find positives for any player. Darrius Heyward-Bey played well on special teams. LaRon Landry made some tackles. Samson Satele made some good plays. David Reed took a few knees in the end zone. You can find positives for any player. The question is how they did at their primary role and how they did overall. In both of those areas, Richardson failed miserably.
He made the comparison to Donald Brown, who the team had patience with and in his 5th season really emerged. His point was that patience with running backs pays off. The team isn't giving up on Richardson, just like they didn't give up on Brown. "Patience" was the motto of the day for Grigson when it came to Trent Richardson. I'm not giving up on Richardson either. I'm hopeful and I do want to see him after a full offseason with the Colts. He will improve, I'm certain of that. Patience is key, but it is certainly fair to expect more out of last year's third overall pick and a guy the Colts gave up a first round pick for this year.
But hey, it's alright everybody, if the Colts didn't have Trent Richardson's 1 carry for 0 yards and a lost fumble in the wild card game, they wouldn't have won. I guess it's a good thing they made that trade, then...