Trent Richardon sucked as a running back last year. That's not speculation. That's fact.
3.0 yards-per-carry for a guy who was once drafted No. 3 overall in 2012 by the Cleveland Browns simply will not cut it. All sorts of excuses have been made to explain the former Alabama phenom's poor performance: Injuries, a lack of knowledge of the offense, poor offensive line play, bad coaching, indigestion, sleeping habits, demonic possession, mind control, and whatever else anyone can think up.
All are silly and, ultimately, meaningless. Richardson has only himself to blame for his lack of productivity. To Richardson's credit, he knows this and has has publicly owned up to it.
The third-year back is participating in the Colts' offseason training program this year, and yesterday he spoke with available media. Among many topics, Richardson discussed his whirlwind 2013 season and what he expects of himself in 2014:
When you look at football - and, I've been playing football my whole life - I never thought that it would become a struggle for me. And, I'm never going to let that be a struggle for me again.
Yes, Richardson has struggled to produce on a football field, but never let it be said that he doesn't own up to his failings or that he refuses to look in the mirror.
There's a lot I've got to prove to myself, not just to everybody else, but to myself knowing what I always have done.
Richardson was traded by the Browns to the Colts during the regular season last year, a move that was unprecedented in modern football. Richardson was the building block of the entire Cleveland franchise in 2012. Two games into 2013, he's traded to Indianapolis for what would end up being the 26th overall pick in this year's draft. Much has been made of the Colts giving up a first rounder in 2014 for Richardson, a fact that Richardson himself addressed when asked if he feels extra pressure to perform:
I think we do have a first round pick. That's me.
Richardson also said he has several personal expectations for 2014, but was unwilling to share them with media:
There's a lot of personal expectations. Going in, I want to be one of the best that everybody compares all these other backs to. When people come into the NFL, like quality rookies, I want them compared to me or our running back crew that we have here.
I write them down. I look at them. I put them on the mirror and look at them in the mirror. They might be up on my locker soon.
One obvious expectation is that his yards-per-carry average must increase. While Richardson earned only 3.0 yards-per-carry last season, his running mate Donald Brown averaged 5.3 rushing behind the same offensive line. Richardson credited Donald Brown as a strong veteran player who taught him humility.
He also opened up a bit regarding how he felt about the Cleveland Browns trading him two games into the 2013 season:
As far as mindset, it's tough. People didn't know how tough it was last year getting traded. You give your all to one team, you build a family, a friendship with this team, and you get traded, at the end of the day you always feel like, 'Man, what did I do?'
Richardson said he plans to stay in Indianapolis during the offseason and train with his teammates.
OTAs, it's very big. That's why you're going to see me here every day. Any day I can get some work in and spend time with the coaches, I'm going to be spending time with them. No days off for me, man.
It's one thing to question Richardson's productivity. That's fair to do. However, his willingness to improve and his overall mindset seem to be in the right place. Here's to hoping those translate into Richardson achieving most of the goals he's writing on his mirror and staring at every day.