RSP Film Room No.53: Trent Richardson in Hindsight

Koreans have "Han", Clevelanders have the Browns. Same thing. Photo by Erik Daniel Drost.
Koreans have “Han”, Clevelanders have the Browns. Same thing. Photo by Erik Daniel Drost.

Ryan Riddle and I look back at Trent Richardson’s Alabama game against a top-ranked Florida defense and then explore the game in context of his NFL career.

What is there to learn from watching Trent Richardson’s college tape in 2015 and early-career NFL tape? Ryan Riddle posed this question on Twitter and I invited him to help us find out.

For analysis of skill players in this year’s draft class, download the 2015 Rookie Scouting Portfolio – available now. Better yet, if you’re a fantasy owner the Post-Draft Add-on comes with the 2012 – 2015 RSPs at no additional charge. Best, yet, 10 percent of every sale is donated to Darkness to Light to combat sexual abuse. You can purchase past editions of the Rookie Scouting Portfolio for just $9.95 apiece. 

5 responses to “RSP Film Room No.53: Trent Richardson in Hindsight”

  1. This was a really interesting piece. Richardson is a great case study because his rookie year he played rather well (despite the low ypc average) and was very hyped coming into his second season.

    I think an off-the-field situation or injury (like Ryan suggested) is very likely the cause of his dropoff, but we can’t know that for sure. He did play with cracked ribs and then had shin surgery after his rookie year, so that could have affected him. I remember at the time he was traded everyone was making fun of the Browns for dumping him, but I think it’s clear in hindsight that their front office knew something the public doesn’t.

    I also think Ryan had an astute observation when he was talking about Richardson’s Colts highlights being more agility than power. I don’t think it’s necessarily that Trent lost his power, just that the Colts’ line was so bad he never really got the opportunities to get a full head of steam downfield and use it.

    One thing I noticed with the Florida tape was that while Richardson had great footwork and navigated through trash around the line of scrimmage well, he never really had to make an entirely East-West move behind the line of scrimmage. Well, actually, he had to once, and that was the only play you guys really criticized him on. On all of the other plays, he may be moving somewhat sideways but he’s also moving forward. If you look at the Browns highlights, there are also none of those types of cuts where he’s moving totally parallel to the line. However, when you get to the Colts tape, he’s making those kinds of moves all of the time. For what it’s worth, here’s the play you guys talked about in the Muth article from the endzone angle:

    The crux of Richardson’s decision comes before #59 is engaged by the pulling guard. He’s in great position to make the tackle on Richardson if Trent had chosen that hole (at least, he appears to be, because he’s about to be blocked). So I wouldn’t really fault Richardson for not trying that. He’s not likely to get very far anyway.

    But, anyway, my point is that I don’t think Richardson really has the agility to continually be moving sideways like that and still make big plays. That kind of stuff is reserved for guys who can stop and cut on a dime, and Richardson doesn’t have explosion like LeSean McCoy or Jamaal Charles. I think Ahmad Bradshaw is a lot better at that stop-and-go kind of running than Richardson, and that’s part of the reason he was successful behind the same line. Since he was forced to run sideways all the time before making it to the line of scrimmage, he was never really was able to get a head of steam and actually drag defenders for bigger gains. I think this article (written before the 2014 season) does a good job of illustrating that Richardson was constantly forced to move sideways behind the line of scrimmage with the Colts (and also did a good job of making the most out of nothing):

    I think a combination of whatever off the field issues he was deal with plus the fact that he was forced to do something that’s not his strong suit in Indianapolis is really what contributed to his downfall.

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