One important note from the Indianapolis Colts’ (1-1) convincing 31-20 road victory against the Houston Texans (0-2) is clarifying how exactly rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson suffered his self-reported concussion.
Early in the second quarter, Richardson scored his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon on a 15-yard run, sustaining a big hit from hustling Texans’ safety M.J. Stewart in the process—and subsequently, seeing his helmet snap back against the unforgiving NRG Stadium artificial turf:
Even this play aside, I think it’s fair to say that Richardson can do at least a little bit better job of protecting his body. Former Colts franchise quarterback Andrew Luck ultimately learned that the hard way as he suffered a number of injuries—including a lacerated kidney, from his unwillingness to protect his body and make sound slides, which heavily contributed to his eventual shocking decision to retire early.
Richardson has been forced to prematurely leave his first two starts because of injuries.
That being said, running is going to remain a big part of Richardson’s game regardless, because it’s part of what makes him so dynamic and special out there at quarterback.
The Panthers didn’t stop running former NFL MVP Cam Newton. The Eagles don’t stop running potential MVP candidate Jalen Hurts. However, Richardson has to understand for longevity’s sake and to extend his pro career, how to better protect his body out there.
That should be fairly simple. Learn to baseball slide when contact is imminent and there’s little chance of extending the play, and/or dive/get low and give opposing defenders a much smaller surface area/target to hit when running and bracing for immediate impact.
HOWEVER, it’s been reported here by The Athletic’s James Boyd, that Richardson did not intentionally ‘let up’ here as he rapidly approached the goal line, believing he had an easy untouched touchdown regardless of Stewart’s presence. Rather, he did not initially see the heat-seeking Texans safety through all of the fast-moving traffic:
One thing I want to emphasize, which is included in this video, is that Anthony Richardson did not intentionally let up to get hit. Multiple #Colts players said he didn’t see #Texans safety M.J. Stewart until it was too late.— James Boyd (@RomeovilleKid) September 17, 2023
Just needs to remember to always play at full speed. https://t.co/lAxCIiPBJH
Chalk it up to a bit of a rookie mistake.
Not that Richardson was even intentionally playing reckless, but that similar to how baserunners in baseball are always taught to run it out (*albeit for other reasons), always go full speed to the end zone—unless you’re 100% sure you won’t be caught.
If Richardson does that, we aren’t even having this conversation, and he’s fully healthy.