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Breaking down Anthony Richardson’s second preseason start vs Eagles

NFL: Preseason-Indianapolis Colts at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Richardson got his 2nd career start against the mostly backup Philadelphia Eagles. Nevertheless, it was another chance to see Richardson and what he has to offer. As expected, it was a bit of everything. He went 6/17 for 78 yards with 5 rushes for 38 yards.

Play by Play Breakdown

Play 1

I like the play fake followed by the super clean 3 step; those little things matter. In terms of the decision-making, I have zero issue with forcing a shot down the field in one-on-one coverage on 1st down.

Play 2

I like how he goes through his reads, looks comfortable in the pocket, but not only was the throw to Pittman well overthrown, it was also late. Had the thrown been accurate, the safety would’ve pummelled Pittman. Pittman was thrown the ball 3 steps after his break which is too late and allowed the safety to react, he needs to throw it right out of the break.

Play 3

As we’ve seen all preseason and in training camp, Richardson has thrived off RPO packages. His footwork, timing and accuracy have been good on these type of throws. This was the case with Pittman on this play.

Play 4

This play summarizes the incredible athletic abilities of Richardson. He does a good job staying in the pocket and going through his reads, even stepping up to avoid outside pressure, but as it starts to close and his options dwindling, he takes it outside and gets an easy 6-7 yards untouched. It’s that explosiveness that will save him many times this season.

Play 5

Play 5 is another RPO that hits his receiver in stride. He is clearly making the right initial reads and his footwork is so solid that when the ball is pulled away from the running back, he’s already aligned perfectly to the target, which is why the throws are accurate. Big credit goes to the coaching staff on that one, because those mechanics aren’t easy to teach.

Play 6

On this play, he makes the read to keep the ball (him keeping the ball will be the right decision or at least an acceptable one 80% of the time) and even though he bobbles the ball, he still wins to the edge and easily gets a first down. I love the fact that he’s going out of bounds and avoiding contact too.

Play 7

He smartly moves up in the pocket and to me, keeping the ball and running and making the throw he did equate to around the same result. The throw itself was actually pretty good, despite the fact that it was low as it was maybe the only place that the receiver could’ve safely gotten the ball. With that being said, I still think Richardson’s best move was to run it and slide somewhere close to the first down line. It’s the safer play, especially on 1st down.

Play 8

This was not a good play as he stared down his receiver through his entire drop and the DB nearly made a big play on the ball. The running back Hull running a quick out/arrow was definitely open and the smarter play there. Staring down targets has been an issue with him in college and so far in his NFL career and will lead to bad interceptions if it’s not fixed.

Play 9

On his 7th throw, he does a good job on the fake and the rollout is pretty well done, but his mechanics are pretty poor on the throw which is what leads to the inaccurate pass. He doesn’t open his hips enough when rolling out which causes them to be closed when he’s throwing the ball. When your hips are closed, the alignment of the shoulders will always be off (always more left of the target if the QB is right handed) and more importantly, the power on the throw will be heavily affected. He needs to train himself to twist the hips more and make sure the lead shoulder is aligned properly to the target.

Play 10

On this play, Richardson incorrectly steps up into both defensive tackles and immediately faces pressure, which completely affects the throw. What’s frustrating is that he had a large opening to his right that he could’ve used to make the dump off throw or run for a big gain.

Play 11

Richardson’s footwork here is lazy right off the bat and because of it doesn’t feel confident making the throw to #1. He then rolls out to his right and then try to make the throw he should’ve made earlier, except this time it’s a lot more difficult as he has to completely twist his body to align himself to the target. These type of timing throws need to happen right off his last step on his drop (the settle step), because that’s how they’re usually designed. He made a routine throw so much harder than it had to be.

Play 12

Based on the coverage, the Eagles were playing a deep zone so all deep routes were going to be taken away. Richardson rolls to his right in what appears to be a designed play, but sees nothing is there. He smartly keeps the ball, finds space to his left and gets the first down. Maybe 4 quarterbacks in the NFL can make this play and it’s incredibly special.

Play 13

The dropback here is a little lazy (too tall, takes the drop and then hops; this leads to timing disruptions), but there aren’t many other issues wrong. It appears his targets are taken away down the field so he hits his running back in the flats who gets half the first down yardage.

Play 14

This is a big time throw. From the snap, the drop is fantastic, the read is great and the throw is incredible as it was thrown to a spot where only the tight end could’ve caught it and he made a great catch. Everything about this play was A+.

Play 15

From the beginning, the read to keep the ball is wrong as Hull had room along the edge to do something. The Egales clogged up the middle and Richardson ran right into it for a loss.

Play 16

This play was so close to being insanely good, but the fact that he got a nearly accurate pass off with two guys on his leg is absurd. It shows that not only is he fast, but he has incredible strength too.

Play 17

I hope that in the regular season, Richardson, who has 13 seconds left on the play call, would see the blitz coming, stop the cadence and then adjust the offensive line and blocking accordingly. The blitz easily got through and nearly caused a sack. Richardson incredibly turned it into a 3 yard gain, but you don’t want your quarterback to have to do that on a consistent basis. A pre-snap blocking adjustment would’ve made all the difference.

Play 18

There’s no point in really going over this play since the ball slipped out, but the play design and spacing seems quite weak on this one. The timing was a bit off too and the two slants were completely taken away with two corners in man plus a linebacker creeping over. Leaving the ball to Hull is probably the smarter move here as the weakside inside linebacker sticks to his spot off the snap meaning the pass is likely to be taken away by him and the corners.

Play 19

While the throw was bad because of its velocity (too fast to a guy who’s close) and too high, he also set his running back up for a big hit. The outside linebacker matched up with the slot because he was traveling in his zone but once the slot was leaving the linebacker’s zone and was passed off to the safety, the linebacker returned back and because of the timing of it, Richardson didn’t see it. It’s tough to blame Richardson for this because of the timing of how it went down. You chalk up a play like this to good defense from the Eagles.

Play 20

I actually love this throw more than any of the other ones in the game. The drop, the step up, the velocity and the placement are A+. You can’t ask for 0.01% better. It’s a shame Downs dropped it. It’s also worth pointing out that the blitz pickup from the O-line and Hull is absolutely perfect, giving Richardson a clean pocket and a clear lane to step up and throw into. While you can argue that Pittman is the safer choice on the drag and could’ve gotten a lot of yards, I love Downs here because #42 was with Granson and even though he reacted to the pass in the air, he wasn’t in a position to light up Downs. It’s a great play that should’ve gotten 20 yards.

Play 21

When training quarterbacks, I always tell them to miss long and not short, so on this play Richardson misses Pittman in a one-on-one by a few yards, but it’s fine because an incompletion is a lot better than an interception. Those things get fine tuned over time with more practice and chemistry.

Play 22

This is a really good attempt by Richardson as all the safer options were taken away so what was mostly a one-on-one with Pierce was the right call. Pierce needs to create a little more separation out of the break, but at the end of the day it’s a good ball batted away by a defensive back making a great play.

Play 23

This is the right read here, unfortunately Pierce just falls on the play. You’ll never get upset attacking the 1st down sticks with a one-on-one matchup on the outside and on a route where the receiver is almost always going to create some initial separation. Richardson will hit that throw this season with Pierce.


Decision Making Grade — B+

He tried attacking a lot of one-on-one matchups and didn’t put himself in too much danger this game. He still has a tendency of staring down receivers before throwing, which I consider a part of decision making and reading. He did, however, do a better job of going through progressions on certain plays.

Play Making Grade — A-

He can turn 8 yard losses into 4 yard gains and is never out of a play. He doesn’t need to always be Superman though and his body will thank him for it.

Mechanics Grade — C+

Similar to his first start, there are some plays where he looks incredible from a mechanics standpoint (great drop, great alignment, great transfer), but others where he looks lazy and makes some arm throws (little rotation). If he can eliminate those lazy reps where the drop, kinetic sequencing and rotation are especially bad then he’ll be closer to an A. I want to see him be more wary of shorter passes and not whipping them in as well.

Accuracy Grade — B

He had some incredible moments and throws in the game, but others that weren’t so good. As expected, it’s a mixed bag. His accuracy, as with almost every quarterback to ever live, is dependent on his mechanics, so when the mechanics get more consistent, so will the accuracy.

Overall Grade — B

There are a lot of things to be happy about, even more than the first game, but the flaws are definitely still there (staring down, ball placement issues, pre-snap reads). That won’t change going into the season, but hopefully we see gradual improvement on all fronts as the season goes on.