I was sitting in my house yesterday, getting ready to for a bike ride. I'd caught up with the tweets, emails and what not for the afternoon (mostly dealing with Dwayne Allen's awful news), and was ready to take a few minutes to relax before settling in for my nightly writing.
As I went out the door, I got a message from Greg about something Colts related.
I assumed that he was still depressed by the Allen news. So, I figured it could wait.
About 25 minutes later I returned, and immediately was hit with news which I never would have guessed.
The Colts had traded their first-round pick to Cleveland for running back Trent Richardson.
I thought it was a joke. That kind of trade doesn't happen. Right?
Well it did, for better or worse. And there are several parts of the better and the worse that we should discuss before either pre-ordering Richardson Colts jerseys or burning our Jim Irsay action figures.
Side Note: I would definitely buy a Jim Irsay action figure. I imagine it would have him riding a rearing, fire-spitting black stallion while defiantly raising his Colts guitar. So something like this:
Let's start with the negative, solely so we can end on a good note.
Why Trading For Trent Richardson Is a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Idea
The main reason why so many fans and analysts have railed against this trade for Indianapolis is because running back is an overrated position.
You can get running backs that will produce from almost any place in the draft. You can get them on the street or the grocery store. How productive your running game is much more dependent on a team's offensive line and how much of a threat their quarterback is. Obviously, a better running back is better (and Richardson is certainly an upgrade), but the overall success, unless it's a transcendent talent, is moreso affected by other factors.
I wouldn't spend a first-round pick on a running back ever, personally, unless it was a transcendent talent.
Second, running back doesn't even get on my list of top ten biggest needs on the 2013 roster.
That list, in case you were wondering, goes a little something like this:
1. Pass rusher on the outside
2. Right guard
4. Interior defensive lineman that can rush the passer
5. Better cornerbacks
6. Future No. 1 receiver to replace Reggie Wayne
7. A fullback
7. Offensive line depth
8. Outside linebacker depth
9. A ball-hawking safety
10. Seriously you can never have enough fullbacks
10. OK maybe at this point you can upgrade the running back spot
My point is, the Colts have far bigger, more pressing issues than upgrading the running back position. So trading a first-round pick that would probably be in the 14-22 range is a bit irksome. No longer can the Colts take a top-notch pass rusher, stud defensive lineman or future No. 1 wide receiver with that pick. No, rather, it was used on a running back, which, in principle, I hate.
A snippet from Greg and I's reactionary chat:
But the biggest issue with this trade is the team's philosophy that it is both revealing and enabling: the power-run/#RunToWin philosophy.
The Colts seemingly will do anything they can to be able to "impose their will" as a power-running team. Unfortunately, they simply don't have the personnel to do that. They don't have the offensive line and they don't have the defense to control the opposing team's offense. Our reader Heracleitus put it best yesterday:
I couldn't put it better myself.
The Colts want to win now. While their core is all very young (Luck, Richardson, Hilton, Fleener, Allen namely), their contracts are also all going to be up at the same time in three years, and the team will be forced to choose. So basically, you have a three year window that you want to take advantage of.
The high-quality running back isn't going to be the step that puts you over the edge UNTIL YOU HAVE THE OFFENSIVE LINE TO GO WITH IT (both for run blocking and pass protection, which is a major drawback to this team right now).
It will be at least one more year before the offensive line is "fixed," and assuming it will be fixed next season is probably a big assumption to make.
The bottom line is, the Colts want to win, but I don't think that for 2013, Richardson really helps them in that regard. Long-term, it could be great, but the contracts are going to be an issue by then.
Why Trading for Trent Richardson Makes Ryan Grigson the Smartest Person to Ever Reside in
Indiana the World
All that being said, there definitely are benefits to having a guy like Richardson on the roster.
When running the ball, the biggest reason, in my opinion, is short yardage situations. Richardson is a powerful back with a nose for the end zone, and the Colts have struggled recently in short yardage.
Richardson has scored eight rushing touchdowns in goal-to-go situations in his NFL career, fifth-most since the start of last season. The Colts best goal-to-go rusher during that time has been Luck, whose five touchdowns match the total from the Colts running backs combined.
The Colts' inability to pick up the yard on third down has killed them over the last few weeks, so if Richardson can help them improve there, they may see their scoring totals raise.
Richardson is also a pretty decent weapon in the passing game, something that will allow the Colts to have a lot of flexibility when using him as a three-down back. Richardson was graded at +3.8 by Pro Football Focus last year in the Pass category, 12th among 59 running backs.
The most important area that Richardson can aid in, however, is play action.
Even if the Colts' offensive line is bad, Richardson will get a bit more respect from defensive units than Ballard would have. In Cleveland, Richardson was the guy you game plan for. Ballard/Bradshaw/Brown are not.
Luck was much better in play action than not last season, as his completion percentage rose by 11.5% and his YPA rose by 2.8 yards. If Richardson allows the Colts to run it even more effectively, great things could happen.
Overall, Richardson does improve the Colts' offense. He's a big upgrade in terms of talent and potential, and he and Luck, Allen and Hilton (possibly Fleener) could be an elite group of skill players. The potential is there, but will it come soon enough?
@Colt_Following Thanks Josh. appreciate that
A big part of Richardson's issues in Cleveland was that there is no other credible offensive threat, so you can pack the box every play and force them to throw. You can't do that with the Colts. Luck's play action and passing threat is so good that Richardson will have the holes to break runs. His talent is great for the Indy offense. Plus, there's not a running back in the league that would be a good blocker if they were trying to block in Cleveland's offense. Richardson is the balance this offense was screaming for.
As for the receivers, we have explosive receivers. T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey are both explosive receivers that will benefit from a credible running attack. If defenses actually have to worry that the Colts will run, they have to balance the defense much more, leaving either T.Y. or DHB with a mismatch. If you watched the Miami game they forced us to throw, throw, throw. We didn't have a credible running game to make them leave pass coverage, which forces Luck to make desperate throws. Now we can run more and throw to the check down.
How can you say the Colts would not have spent their 1-2 draft spots on a RB next year anyway? Richardson has the potential to be the ideal Colts RB with his Play Action and Short Yardage ability. With Richardson, NO MORE FULLBACK idiocy!!!! Last, Is there likely to be any RB in the top 3 rounds of next years draft who opposing teams would have to game plan against?
Now look at what the Colts otherwise might have had on next year's roster.
Vick Ballard - gutsy but never the fastest runner, now with ACL injury likely to lose half step, even if he does play again , unlikely he will have Adrian Peterson level recovery. More likely in best case scenario to spend time on the PUP list at start of 2014
Ahmad Bradshaw - overachieving 7 the rounder + 1 year contract + age(28 next year) + nagging foot injury history. Big question to be on 2014 roster.
Donald Brown - Last year of 4 yr contract playing in make or break year. Not really strong in Play Action or Pass Protection. Neither front office or many fans have great affection for Brown, fair or not. Likely gone if not traded away this year.
Kerwynn Williams - Unknown - likely poor pass blocker, better ST player then RB.
Even with Richardson the Colts may have to draft a RB in the mid to later rounds.
If I could only go back in time and tell my ten year-old self that one day I would be quoted in a Colts blog, he would say...
"What's a blog?"
"Despite the popularity of Orange is the New Black, people think the pornstache looks silly."
Ten year-old me was hella precocious.
Well, here's hoping that Richardson's talent ends up being realized and that the passing game opens up. I just fear that the poor interior OL and use of the heavy run formations will not allow Richardson or Luck perform the way they should. But, as others mentioned, maybe we stop seeing the FB on the field so much and we see more packages with Wayne, Hilton, DHB, Fleener, and Richardson. I still think they could have done that with Bradshaw but the coaches obviously didn't think that.
As with the All-22 Defense discussion yesterday, I'm trying to latch on to something. On the bright side, it is easier to do that with Richardson than Walden.
Grigs had better PRAY that their first-rounder is in the 14-22 range, because I have them finishing quite a bit higher in the draft.
And I had dreams of a blockbuster trade to jump up and grab Clowney or Lee...sadface.
Herschel Walker is the only running back involved in a trade that made a team a Super Bowl contender. Alas, it was the team that traded him that became viable not the team that acquired him.
I understand but I don't. Spent a lot of money for two running backs ,Richardson and Bradshaw when the O-Line and a pass rusher are far greater needs.I know you have to look at whats available so I guess I'll reserve judgement until I see what Richardson can do. I said it before,Griggs is a gambler,he just proved it again.
How's Trent's (we're on a first name basis) blocking? Is he terrible (so outwardly terrible as Donald Brown (per Stampedeblue)), or?
That picture made me piss myself.
I had to read at least three times to clarify what the orange spew was, but yeah. Great stuff.
On Richardson: I'm happy enough. Might not've been the positional priority we wanted, but we didn't get that with Werner > Rhodes anyway.
I see nothing good coming from this long term. Short term it may work out fine, and it may have people praising the Colts by the time the playoffs role around. However, what happens when draft day comes and we find out that Mathis or Wayne has retired? What do we do when our first pick isn't until mid-2nd round and we still have no pash rush, no "edge" setter, etc. We also won't have the massive FA budget we had this year, because we decided to splurge and get the great Eric Walden.
The future of this team is not as bright as it was 24 hours ago...
@Goéland Thanks man, that means a lot.
@wkscott32 Richardson is not a credible offensive threat. Thats the problem.
@wkscott32 The biggest problem with your argument is that opponents *didn't* stack the box. Richardson, per PFF, faced an 8 man box 17% of the time, which is less than the league average.
@wkscott32 I talked about this some yesterday.
While the Browns offensive situation did nothing to HELP Trent Richardson, people are talking about him as though he has the potential to be an elite, transcendent back. In my mind, then, he should perform like other elite, transcendent backs.
Here are 3 backs, post-2005 (I think 2004/2005 is the year the league fully started to shift away from Running the ball and Stopping the Run for good):
Adrian Peterson had Tavaris Jackson as his QB and ran for 5.6ypc in his rookie year
Chris Johnson had a bad Kerry Collins as his QB and ran for 4.9ypc in his rookie year
*Jamaal Charles had Quinn Grey/Tyler Thigpen as his QBs and ran for 5.3ypc
*Note: Charles had VERY FEW carries in 2008 (only 67).
His QB situation never improved, but HE did: 5.9ypc in 2009, 6.4 in 2010.
Elite RBs overcome the things around them. Richardson has not done that.
@thellamajockey Most of these arguments revolve around whether it's actually worth it to use a first round pick on a RB (it isn't). People were fucking stoked about Ballard. He was a fifth round pick. When Edge blew out his knee in 2001, we replaced him with a UDFA named Dom Rhodes. He ran for 1100 yards in 9 games. Good or competent running backs can be found much farther down the ladder than other traditional skill or critical positions like pass rushers. Giving away our first round pick that could be used for an edge rusher, interior OL, a wayne replacement, or half a dozen other things doesn't make sense. The difference between Trent Richardson's production and a hypothetical RB committee next year isn't going to be much.
We mortgaged long term success for short term success when our team is not built properly nor deep enough to challenge this year. It's overreaching at its finest.
@bradicus18 I laughed. Thank you for uniting Colts fans of all persuasions, Erik Walden! Now if we could only bring Grigson aboard...
@GregC Don't even get my started on Payton. Did you see his comments in the thread yesterday!
@buymymonkey"Richardson wasn’t even being utilized on third down, mainly because of his suspect blocking. The Browns’ coaches felt fullback
Chris Ogbonnaya was a more trustworthy pass-protector and every bit as effective a receiver as Richardson."
@buymymonkey He's got the potential to be one of the better blockers league-wide. Hasn't realised it yet, but it was plain for all to see at 'Bama.
@GregC @wkscott32 Marshall Faulk's first 3 years were not that spectacular, 4.1 ypc his first season, then 3.7, the 3.0, let us not just put all the ones that had strong first seasons, let us include those that did not as well.
Marcus Allen 4.0 and 3.8 first two years, Emmitt Smith was under 4 his first year as well, let us not keep going with this idea that the elite ones always figure it out right away.
We see the potential and there are other factors but what I see on tape is that this guy can be great, however we will see this year.
@Payton @thellamajockey Yup. Classic over reach. I am more and more convinced the Grigson got lucky last year. So far he has bucked the slow, but effective method of building through the draft to play in free agency. While they jury is still out on most of the FA's Walden's presence and performance so far does not give me confidence. Hopefully I wrong, but I see a mess a burn down and a good five years of rebuilding though the draft in the future while the last years of Wayne's career and the first years of Luck's are rendered pointless.
@paulcareyjr @Payton @GregC @wkscott32 I´ll add that despite all the hoopla about Adrian Peterson, he´s more boom-or-bust than people realize, since last year his success rate was 49% which made him 14th of 42 in the league (Ballard had 48%), well below McGahee´s 58% (1st) or CJ Spiller´s 55% (3rd), which just goes to prove that expecting your RB to systematically pick up the tough yards is too tall an order for any running back. They do not give you a better chance to convert when needed than a QB.
@Payton @paulcareyjr @GregC @wkscott32 I can agree that offensive line is important in getting short yardage, but in the case when you do not have a good offensive line, you need a RB that is able to do more to pick those up, that is one reason why I like this pick for our current team. There are many areas that we could have targeted, but I feel like the addition of Richardson won't just help in upgrading the RB position, but will help with the pass game and the offensive line as well.
No one can say with certainty right now how this will play out, I understand the knocks and the worries, but every move you make in football is a gamble, taking a guy int he 1st is a gamble, trading away a 1st is a gamble. I personally like this gamble more. Going along with gambles, talking about how strong a draft is or whatever this early in the college season is kind of silly still, Last year was supposed to be a strong WR draft, but it did not turnout to be that, because guys fell off and weaknesses were exposed. Not saying a top WR or OLB prospect won't fall to us, but we have no idea about that,
I hope the Richardson attention turns out well and if it doesn't I will be disappointed, but I realize it is a gamble and he still has stuff to show, but I like his potential and what I have seen as far as his toughness, drive, and eagerness to get better, I know Jim Brown did not endorse him at first, but I like the fact that Marshall Faulk did, as a Colts fan that means a lot to me as well, but yea, we should come back to this conversation about 5 to 6 weeks from now, would be interesting to see where we are that early.
You think that when Adrian Peterson was playing with Tavaris Jackson, the defense focused on the passing game?
Or when Kerry Collins threw for 2000 yards in 2008, the defenses weren't focusing on Chris Johnson?
@Payton @paulcareyjr @GregC @wkscott32 Not mute at all, if that is the case they should have had better running games and should have had better seasons. Richardson played in a division with some of the top defensive lines in the league.
You can argue that RBs were more valuable then and I agree, but having an elite RB who can get short yardage and convert is still super valuable, and I think that is the point most don't think about. That is what makes AP great is his ability to convert when it is needed, not running so many yards a season. There are a lot of guys who can get yards when defenses are focused on the passing game, but what about when they focus on the running game.
You compare Chris Johnson and Charles, but those guys don't offer that in my opinion.
I think it will be valuable, but we will see as the year goes along.
@Ben Savage @mattshedd @matt_has @GregC @buymymonkey Some of us might be disagreeing strongly with Grigson´s trade, but besides mattshedd´s awesome answer, I want to emphasize that we have by and large not proven to be intellectually dishonest, and that is a major difference with people who pursue agendas despite the facts. If none of our fears and predictions come true, we´ll readjust our thinking accordingly after recognizing we were wrongity-wrong.
If you've read anything I've written, you'll know I'm as down on the acquisitions as anyone. My complaint is the basic nature of the debate - is Grigson a solid GM etc. By my previous responses to his actions and your current responses, we seem to say no, and for me as I say it was clear before this trade that Grigson's view doesn't reconcile with my own (which tends to follow conventional thinking around here). So to me, it seems a pointless debate when it's that clear.
I'm past that, to the point where I view it fatalistically - at least the offense is going to be entertaining, and Grigson could've done a lot worse. After trading for Cassius Vaughn and Vontae, god knows what purgatory he might've had in mind for people who watch this secondary.
@Ben Savage @matt_has @GregC @buymymonkey Hey Ben, You are right that there is not any open-mindedness about this trade. However, I do not think that this is because the authors, or the community of this blog are pursuing an agenda.
We who have read this blog (and the blogs that it came from) were trained for years through statistical evidence about the best way to build a team, about the importance of the draft (and the 1st round in particular), about the dangers of free agency, about the lack of importance of the running game for success in the modern NFL, and about trusting advanced stats over the ol' eye ball test.
Regardless, this community has (as you know) been very open to the new direction taken by GM Ryan Grigson--even if we didn't trust the methods he was using. We have supported the new guys on the team, even when our collective football knowledge tells us that there is no way in Hades that Walden will set the edge, no way that DHB suddenly develops great hands, and no way that a fullback is going to help us move the football. In spite of this knowledge, we have cheered on the new guys and old guys alike.
However, after hearing news about this blockbuster trade--the overwhelming response is negative. Why? Is it because we are pushing an anti-Grigsonian agenda? No, rather, it is the realistic response from a group of people whose collective football IQ is higher than the average football fan. We see the success rate stats, the EPA, we know the cost of the first rounder, we understand the relative unimportance of running the ball, and we realize that we have already invested in a FA runner. This is collective disapproval of a decision based on the historic evidence.
Come Sunday I am cheering for Richardson every time he touches the ball. He's a Colt now, we love him. If the season turns for the better based on our running game--we will applaud Grigson. If our team over the next 2-3 years doesn't show the desperate need for a top end draft pick, doesn't show any major holes that need to be filled, we will call this a surprisingly good move. We are willing to wait to judge the results.
History just shows that the odds of this working out well are slim.
My comment was meant in jest to say that TR could be the best blocking RB in the league, but his own FO didn't even recognize it... bc it's *the Browns*.
I do have some hope (cue Shawshank clip). In fact, for argument's sake, consider this...
What if, after years of teams building up these pass-focused defenses (bc that's what Peyton, Tawmy, Brees, et al dictated), the majority of teams are less prepared to deal with a power run offense?
How did you beat the Peyton-era Colts? You kept their offense off the field by chewing up the clock and running...running right past their pass rushers. So let's pretend for a moment that we have an O-line that can impose its run-blocking will. Add one of the best young QBs in the league ... it could get loud.
From the extreme positive-thinking angle, what are the chances that this is the beginning of a sea change *back* to a running league?
Is 18 games with Brandon Weeden and an atrocious offense enough of a sample size for you? Really? His play at Alabama strongly suggested he'd be an above average pass protector in the league at least.
I'm not seeing any open-mindedness regarding this trade which is the worst thing. It's being used to pursue agendas, which is more what I expect from commenters on a different Colts site.