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The rookie QB rollercoaster: Anthony Richardson, mobility, and proper expectations

Anthony Richardson and the trials and triumphs of rookie NFL quarterbacks. Emphasizing patience for Colts fans and highlighting the advantages of mobility.

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

The term “rookie quarterback” has always inspired a mix of excitement and anxiety. There’s the promise of new talent and potential franchise saviors, but there’s also the unpredictability of performance and how these young players will adapt to the pros.

The league has seen its fair share of ups and downs with first-year quarterbacks. Some entered the league with monumental expectations, only to face struggles, while others rose from obscurity to take the spotlight. For the majority, however, their rookie years were filled with valuable learning experiences.

Colts fans need to enter the 2023 season with level heads. While Anthony Richardson brings a lot to the table, history tells us that patience is key.

Why Mobility Matters

One aspect that’s been increasingly crucial in the success of rookie quarterbacks is mobility. Anthony Richardson, blessed with agility and speed, can create plays with his legs, buying time for his receivers or picking up crucial yards on the ground. This is a significant advantage in today’s NFL.

While often boasting impressive arm talent, traditional pocket passers might lack the adaptability and escapability of mobile QBs. They often face immense pressure from defensive linemen eager to exploit rookie mistakes. On the other hand, QBs with mobility can counteract this by scrambling, making it harder for defenses to predict and counter their moves.

The Rise of the Read Option and RPOs

Enter the read option and run-pass option (RPO) offensive systems. These strategies have been game-changers in the NCAA and the NFL. By reading defenses and making quick decisions based on their alignments and movements, quarterbacks can decide to hand off, keep, or pass the ball. This type of offense is tailor-made for mobile quarterbacks, masking their inexperience while capitalizing on their athleticism.

Consider the rapid ascent of Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Jalen Hurts. Their two-way abilities—capable of hurting defenses with both their arms and legs—have catapulted them to the top of NFL quarterback tier lists. The blend of passing proficiency and running threat they bring is invaluable.

Setting Expectations for Richardson

Given Anthony Richardson’s mobility and the potential for the Colts to implement read option or RPO systems, there’s genuine optimism. However, historical statistical production and team wins among rookie quarterbacks suggest caution. It’s not uncommon for first-year QBs to have more interceptions than touchdowns or for their teams to experience a dip in wins.

For Colts fans, the key is patience. Embrace the flashes of brilliance, but understand that mistakes are part of growth. Every sack, every interception, and every loss is a learning experience for Richardson. By supporting him through the highs and lows, Colts Nation can hopefully witness the evolution of their next franchise quarterback.