When the dust settles in Super Bowl LVIII and a world champion is crowned, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Anthony Richardson will have returned to Florida in preparation for his first off-season throwing program.
Two weeks ago, Indianapolis’ franchise captain reflected on his rookie campaign during his end of season press conference at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
NFL fans witnessed the rookie burst past defenders and showcase flashes of his athleticism against each rival in the AFC South and rally the Colts back to an overtime thriller against the Los Angeles Rams. In front of a jam-packed Lucas Oil Stadium, Richardson set a pair of franchise records in the season opener versus Jacksonville by completing 24 of 37 pass attempts, which was the most completions and the best completion percentage (64.9%) by a Colts rookie quarterback in his first career start.
Indianapolis’ fourth overall draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft possesses undeniable talent and explodes when he accelerates in the open field. Despite the 25 carry sample size, Richardson ran for 136 rushing yards and scored four rushing touchdowns. Richardson averaged 5.4 yards per carry in 2023, measuring up to Ravens’ MVP-favorite Lamar Jackson’s 5.8 yards per carry and 49ers’ First Team All-Pro running back Christian McCaffery’s 5.4 yards per carry.
Nine minutes of Anthony Richardson highlights.— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) January 24, 2024
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The realities of competing on the gridiron became apparent once Richardson suffered a concussion in his second start and first career win against C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans. On Oct. 8, Richardson suffered a grade three AC Joint sprain in his throwing shoulder during his first home win in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans and ultimately decided to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery to repair it just one month into the regular season. It became an eye-opening injury for the then 21-year old, now 22, who dealt with injuries and played through pain before, but never had to be told by team trainers and doctors that his season was over.
“Of course I was hesitant,” Richardson told reporters. “I didn’t want to get the surgery at first. I didn’t want to be out for the season because (my) rookie season, first year, I wanted to play. I wanted to be out there with the team.”
“This injury kind of set me back a little bit, but after talking to the training staff and getting different opinions from different doctors and talking to my agent and my family, they said long-term this was the best thing for me to do because if I did try to go out there and play again, I probably wouldn’t be able to throw it, only just run. I don’t want to just run the ball, I want to throw it too. That was probably the best thing for me to do, was to get my shoulder fixed up on.”
Richardson sat in the offensive meetings alongside Gardner Minshew and Sam Ehlinger, picking through the brilliant, innovative mind of his first-year head coach. Steichen did not limit the interactions to teaching the rookie just offensive schemes and what the defense presents pre-snap, but took a deep dive into the personal life of his young gunslinger.
Envision an offensive stampede deceiving defenses with heavy motion and forcing opponents to telegraph man or zone coverage. A full training camp to master the power run-pass-option with running back Jonathan Taylor in the backfield. Taylor played just one snap alongside Richardson in 2023, but saved his best performance for the season finale and rushed for a season-high 188 yards, including a season-long 49-yard touchdown.
“I believed that when I first walked through the door just looking at the pieces that we have,” Richardson said. “Then for myself, I’m going to compete every single chance I get. We don’t want anything short of the playoffs. We want to exceed the playoffs and go to the Super Bowl. That’s the main goal, get rings here and win championships.”
The 22-year old is younger than every quarterback in the 2024 Draft Class, except Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. Richardson can stamp his legacy in Indianapolis if the Colts redeem themselves with an AFC title and host a playoff game inside LOS in 2025.