Running back Trent Richardson has had a very tough two years with the Colts, and it's widely assumed that the Colts will be moving on from the running back this offseason. But at least one notable former NFL player isn't giving up on Richardson yet.
Former running back Shaun Alexander, who rushed for 9,453 yards and 100 touchdowns in his career and won the NFL MVP award in 2005 after rushing for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns, had some interesting advice for Trent Richardson.
"The NFL bombards you with X's and O's, learning the schemes and getting up to speed on the knowledge of the game," Alexander, who like Richardson played collegiately at Alabama, told Yahoo Sports' Eric Edholm. You can slowly become robotic and so worry about being right that you forget what made you a talent."
"You have these shoulders and these legs and you're exploding through the hole, and you didn't know what would happen like you were riding a wave. All of a sudden you pop a big one. If you're too hindered by X's and O's, you lose that. All those things that made you special, they can be restricted by the scheme sometimes."
Alexander noted that in his first year in the NFL, Mike Holmgren (Seattle's coach) tried to get him to run a certain way. Alexander realized that it wasn't working and told Holmgren that he had to be allowed to do what made him so successful in high school and college. He would go on to put together five straight seasons with at least 1,000 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns.
Is this Trent Richardson's problem? Has he become so weighed down by focusing on doing the right thing that he's stopped doing what made him successful in the first place? It's hard to tell, but at least one former NFL running back thinks that might be the case with Richardson. Is this the reason why the Colts and running backs coach David Walker "mutually parted ways?" Is there still hope that Richardson could develop into a good NFL running back?
Ultimately, this is something that we can't really tell, but it's an interesting theory from someone who's been through it. Hopefully Richardson can get things figured out, but even if he does, it's unlikely to be with the Colts, as it seems likely that the team will move on from him this offseason. Because, while we can't pinpoint the exact reasons for the struggles, we can clearly see the lack of production: in 31 career games with the Colts (including playoffs), Richardson has rushed for 978 yards and six touchdowns total, averaging 3.05 yards per carry. The Colts suspended him for personal reasons before the AFC Championship game, and with it being a two game suspension he would miss the first game of the 2015 season if still on the roster.
Wherever Richardson is playing in 2015, I hope that he can get things worked out and contribute at the NFL level, and at least Shaun Alexander thinks that he still can get there.