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Breaking down Anthony Richardson’s up and down first NFL start

Richardson had his moments, but still has a long way to go.

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Anthony Richardson’s NFL debut ended in a 31-21 loss against division rival Jacksonville Jaguars. He went 24/37 for 223 yards with one touchdown and an interception as well as a team leading 40 yards on 10 rushes and a touchdown.

The following below is a link to all his plays so make it easier to follow along.

Link to Every Play:

*Note: The NFL has blocked the viewing on this site, so follow the link to watch on Youtube

Notable Plays

Play 2 (0:09 in link)

Richardson was trying to hit Mallory on a deep out route, but took about a half second too long to hit him so the safety was able to read the play and broke it up. The pass was also a tad behind and way too high which made the play nearly impossible for Mallory. Had the throw been accurate (shoulder height and in front of Mallory), I think he would’ve been able to catch it even with the pass being slightly late.

Play 3 (0:17 in link)

I love the drop and i love the timing on this play. Pass is well thrown and the Colts get most of the 1st down yardage on an easy 2nd down play.

Play 6 (0:52 in link)

Nice sell on the play fake as he fakes out Josh Allen and while Granson was an ok decision, Mallory running a deep out was the better choice since he was open and further down the field. On top of that, Richardson nearly missed a 5 yard layup throw. His mechanics on the run need improvement, notably his shoulder level since they aren’t parallel to the ground which will cause the ball to sail or go too high.

Play 8 (1:15 in link)

I love this play; I love the route from Downs and I love the throw and timing from Richardson. This could be a deadly connection when the field is spread like it was.

Play 9 (1:27 in link)

Richardson is a cheat code inside the 5-yard line.

Play 17 (3:26 in link)

While the throw and read were perfect, if the timing were any later, Ogletree would be in the hopsital. The passing game in the NFL has become so timing based because of the incredible speed developments in the game. If you’re late on a throw, the window either closes or your receiver’s life ends. If you’re too early, the window likely isn’t there or your receiver isn’t ready to catch the ball. Richardson needs to master the timing aspect of this offense.

Play 18 (3:41 in link)

I really like the footwork in the pocket, as well as him finding space and keeping his eyes downfield. The checkdown is absolutely the right read on 1st down and it should’ve gotten half the yardage if it weren’t for the fumble.

Play 19 (3:54 in link)

Notice #83 Granson as he’s running his rounded dig. The free safety isn’t in position to make a play and the strong safety would be the one to make the tackle, but can’t kill him since he’s too far away. While Richardson makes the checkdown throw, Granson is the right read and should’ve been hit right out of his break. This is a missed opportunity for Richardson.

Play 20 (4:09 in link)

Another example of timing getting your receiver hit hard. Pierce was open for ages on the crossing route, but Richardson waited too long (even took a hitch after his 5 step drop) and hit Pierce only for him to get hit hard from the sitting corner. Had he thrown it off his last step (instead of hitching), Pierce would’ve had the ball earlier, had more room to run and not get blasted.

Play 21 (4:21 in link)

I get that it’s late in the first half and you have only one timeout, but #9 is wide open on a crosser and there’s a strong chance he can get the first down on the right side of the field and go out of bounds. Richardson got too greedy trying to get a big play and took a sack instead.

Play 22 (4:35 in link)

As we saw in the preseason, Richardson thrives off the RPO. He does a great fake in the backfield, keeping his eyes on his linebacker read and then firing a perfect strike to Pittman. The timing on the throw was very well done. Richardson on RPOs is different than Richardson on other passing plays.

Play 28 (5:35 in link)

It might seem like a nothing screen pass, but this is actually quite a difficult throw for the quarterback. He needs to sell the fake, sell the defense on his eyes, re-align his body and feet and then hit Pittman on Pittman’s left shoulder or center line so that he’s leading him, all within the span of 1.5 seconds. The fact he does this so effortlessly should not be overlooked. It’s a perfectly executed play that leads to a great touchdown.

Play 32 (6:55 in link)

Funny enough, Richardson’s throw here was perfectly timed but because of poor body alignment, the pass is inaccurate (he threw exactly to where he is aimed). I’ve noticed this pattern with him before, it’s as if his body and his brain are not on the same page sometimes.

Play 34 (7:17 in link)

I’m not sure why Richardson took something off this ball (cut off follow through and less transition from lower body), but he had Granson open by half a step and he completely underthrew him.

Play 35 (7:28 in link)

This is a tough play to break down without the All 22 (was not up at the time of this writing). I can’t tell if Alec Pierce was open on the deep dig or if the routes on the left side of the play. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Richardson doesn’t see Campbell the defender sitting underneath in the zone and it’s a bad game ending interception.

Play 36 (7:42 in link)

Great drop, great throw, great read. Great quarterbacks get the ball out the second the receiver is level with the 2nd level defender, but the timing was good enough on this play.

Play 40 (8:29 in link)

Jaguars bring two on a blitz, Richardson doesn’t panic, stays in the pocket and then hits Pittman on the hook. It’s those type of plays that show how good he can be in the pocket.

Play 41 (8:39 in link)

Good Mahomes-like ability rolling to his right and throwing across his body to an open receiver. Throwing across your body is not as much of a no-no these days for quarterbacks, especially when you have an arm like Richardson’s and the receiver is wide open.

The good, the bad & the ugly

The Good: Playmaking Ability

Richardson is just a special athlete with the ball in his hands. He’s extremely hard to take down and he consistently turns negative plays into positive ones with his feet.

The Bad: Inconsistency

The great plays are really amazing and the bad plays are really terrible. That level of inconsistency will make it hard to trust a quarterback.

The Ugly: Timing

Richardson’s timing is often late, so he’s often leading his receivers into dangerous hits and he often misses his throwing windows.


Decision Making Grade — C

Play Making Grade — A-

Mechanics Grade — C+

Accuracy Grade — C+

Overall Grade — C+

It’s more of what we saw from the preseason, but his highs weren’t as great and his lows weren’t as bad (although the interception was pretty bad). Overall, the negatives outweighed the positives, especially with his timing (which would’ve gotten a D grade) and his decision making (not throwing to a lot of open receivers). The positives, however, shouldn’t be overlooked because he did have some great throws, plays and runs. The Texans next week might seem like an easier matchup, but the Texans D did a tremendous job against Lamar Jackson, so it could be a a very good test for Richardson.