We've talked about running back Trent Richardson a lot. We're constantly watching and trying to figure out whether he's showing signs of improvement from last year - a terrible year by any means.
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson, who gave up a first round pick to get the running back last year, was obviously asked about Richardson and the running game when he met with the media on Tuesday. "I think it's going to be a little bit different picture this year just because you're going to have more guys outside that are going to command more attention from the defense," Grigson said. "So you think that's going to open up more and I think with an improved offensive line, all those things should take care of themselves."
"Again Trent, he needs to answer the bell and do his job to the best of his ability. We're all accountable here. I will say this, there's a lot of backs last year that wouldn't have got 2.8 considering the amount of people he had in that box and the amount of bodies that were hitting him before he even seemed to get the ball sometimes. He's such a hard runner, we know how tough he is, but he's got to produce just like all these guys do on this final 53."
Grigson's right - there are a lot of backs who wouldn't have gotten 2.8 yards per carry (Richardson actually averaged 2.9 last year) behind that Colts offensive line, but here's the difference: if you're going to use a first round draft pick on a running back in today's NFL, they have to be able to make plays out of nothing. Nobody is arguing that the Colts offensive line isn't part of the problem, but with Richardson being the 3rd overall pick in the 2012 draft and with the Colts giving up a first round draft pick for him, Richardson simply must make plays, even when the line isn't that great. Remember Joseph Addai? He did that well. Trent Richardson? He hasn't done that yet.
Grigson also talked about the state of the running game in general, and he talked more about the offensive line in answering. "Well we're going in the right direction," Grigson said. "I think the surge even with the guys, we don't have our starters in there right now, but to me there's definitely more of a surge than I'd even saw last year and that's with even some of our twos in there. So I think we're getting more of a push which is going to create more room to run the football. Then hopefully we get Jack (Mewhort) back going here and get him rolling. (Jonotthan) Harrison's doing a really good job, we have to still keep evaluating him and watch him here in these games coming ahead. There's two more preseason games left, there's a lot to be told still."
The offensive line does look better, and that should certainly help out the running game, but that can't be used to take the pressure off of Richardson - which Grigson didn't when he said that the back needs to "answer the bell." And as he also said, if he simply does his job to the best of his ability, then we won't be having this discussion. Richardson is talented enough that even though he's not playing behind a good line, he can make things happen. So far, he hasn't.