Indianapolis Colts rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson ran a lethal uptempo offense for 33 snaps, showcasing a power run-pass-option in the first-half of Thursday’s 27-13 preseason finale victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Colts head coach Shane Steichen thought Richardson had a solid performance leading the offense and scoring on three of the first four drives. The Colts first round draft pick finished 6-of-17 passing for 78 yards and rushed for 38 yards on five carries.
“That’s one of his talents,” Steichen said. “To create those big plays outside the pocket. I think he had 38 rushing yards, but the scramble plays when guys are coming through on blitzes, obviously we have got to look at those and get those things picked up better. But just his ability to create outside the pocket is definitely going to help us.”
It took just six plays and 2:30 for Richardson to drive the offense 52-yards downfield and tie the game at 7-7 on the second drive. Richardson ran the RPO and delivered a dart to receiver Michael Pittman Jr. on a slant for a 13-yard gain. The rookie then connected across the middle with tight end Andrew Ogletree, who tumbled over defenders for a 23-yard gain.
Don’t see a lot of power RPO in the NFL. Here’s a nice one. SS plays run so AR throws the glance to Pittman. pic.twitter.com/PNlkbOZexq— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) August 25, 2023
From the Eagles’ 10-yard line, Colts running back Deon Jackson took three consecutive carries to score. Once Jackson crossed the goal line, Richardson embraced a villainous role and taunted the Philadelphia crowd, waving his arms, mocking “fly Eagles fly” in the end zone.
“I was thinking about it before the game,” Richardson said. “Sometimes when you get into the end zone, you just freeze up and don’t know what to do, so I was contemplating what I was going to do if I scored or if somebody else scored. So I ran down there and I was just flapping my arms and having fun. I hope nobody took it the wrong way. I was just balling, having fun out there, and enjoying It.”
On the first play of the Colts third drive, Richardson kept the option and Eagles defensive end Janarius Robinson was caught in no man’s land, having to decide within a split second whether to chase down running back Evan Hull, or attack Richardson.
Attached is a 30 second video highlighting Richardson’s skill set from the RPO.
The 21-year old struggles on deep throws, and can often overthrow or sail passes well over his intended target, but Colts fans are devoted to discovering a game-breaker on the 2023 roster. Defensive coordinators will be cautious to gamble with blitzes as Richardson can escape pressure with his 4.43 40-yard dash time and move the sticks on 3rd-&-long.
“I just try to keep my eyes down the field unless there is a wide open lane,” Richardson said. “If there is an opportunity to give someone the ball, then it’s their job to run the ball. I just have to deliver it. If there is an opportunity to give someone the ball I’m going to take that opportunity instead of running it myself, but if I see a lane I’m going to try to take it and get some yards for the team.”
With the conclusion of the preseason, the focus over the next two weeks will be solely on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I’m excited to see the way we gameplan,” Richardson said. “I’m looking forward to playing the long season. We were talking about it in the locker room that it’s going to be a grind for sure, but I’m excited to see how we gameplan against certain teams and see how the offense does.”