Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

28 Oct 2013

Ben Muth on Trent Richardson

Ben goes into what he sees as the major issues between Trent Richardson and the Indianapolis offensive line that are keeping Richardson from success in the run game.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 28 Oct 2013

36 comments, Last at 01 Nov 2013, 6:17pm by herewegobrowniesherewego


by bucko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 12:53pm

Appreciate the posting of this article

I will hold to my original assessment. Ron Dayne disease.

by zlionsfan :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 2:25pm

The 10-Yard Fight RB: in that last GIF, he'd used up his three broken tackles, so he had to go down when he hit the safety.

by Ben :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 2:26pm

As a Colts fan who thought it was ridiculous to give up a 1st round pick for any RB not named Adrian Peterson, my biggest concern is how Richardson doesn't stack up well versus the other backs on the roster.

Certainly the interior of the Colts' OL is atrocious, especially since Thomas went down, but when 3 other backs (Ballard, Brashshaw, and Brown) have considerably more success behind the same line, it makes this trade look all the worse.

Ryan Griggson had a great first year as GM. Between this years draft and some of the trades though, he's certainly hit a bit of a sophomore slump in my mind.

by Juvenal (not verified) :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 2:51pm

I wonder about how great a year he really had last year. He drafted luck. That is nice. Great job. 100,000,000 other people could have done that.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 4:03pm

Last year, Allen and Hilton were good finds in the 3rd, and Ballard in the 5th. If Ballard hadn't gotten hurt, Colts probably wouldn't have traded for Richardson in the first place. I'd even say the 2nd rounder for Vontae Davis is looking like a solid decision right now.

As for taking Luck, we'll never really know, but I recall there being a lot of discussion from the blathering heads that the Colts should take RG3. No way to know how many GMs would have actually done it. Supposedly Washington said they would have taken RG3 at #1 if they'd held the pick, but that's obviously to be taken with a grain of salt.

by Purds :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 8:04pm

In assessing the trade, we should not forget one factor: the Colts didn't have to pay any of the signing bonus, and thus they will have money to use in FA, which we know their new GM will spend. It's not significant, but it's also not insignificant. So, they lose a #1 but gain at least a little of the cap money they would have spent on a #1.

(Still wish they hadn't paid that much…)

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 2:04pm

Werner, their last 1st round pick, is counting 1.4 million against the cap. Richardson is counting 1.1 million. That's pretty insignificant.

The man with no sig

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Fri, 11/01/2013 - 6:17pm

Think it was more in terms of the cost of a late first rounder, not dollars and cents. They have to hope Trent is a legitimate franchise cornerstone comparable to a late 1st rounder.

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 9:43pm

There is overwhelming evidence that he should never have been taken 3rd, although it was difficult to tell at the time, and an upgrade from Hillis/Hardesty/Ogbannaya was sorely needed.

There is also a *preponderance* of evidence that he's less valuable than a late 1st rounder by either Grigson or Lombardi/Banner, but it's not a guarantee.

by CBPodge :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:25am

I don't think there was overwhelming evidence. Many people had him rated as the best non-QB in the draft, and I seem to recall Greg Cosell rating him as the best player in the draft period. He did seem, from a talent analysis point of view, worthy of a top-5 pick. And bear in mind Cleveland traded up to get him in the belief that someone else was willing to trade up above Cleveland to get Richardson.

There is overwhelming evidence *now* that he shouldn't have been picked at #3 though! I still think he's probably worth a late first round pick though, which is what the Colts hope they are giving up for him.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 11:48am

My recollection was that he was considered the best running back in a draft with no elite running backs. I remember a lot of draft analysis along of the lines "well you have to take Richardson by this point, he's the best running back in the draft".

I propose a hard and fast rule that you should only trade up into the top 5 to get a QB or pass rusher that you really like. The odds of being right on any player are low enough, and the rewards are low enough at all other positions that it's not worth it otherwise.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 12:06pm

I'd argue that prospects like Megatron are worth trading up for, and Revis was probably worth a top 5 pick (he basically gave the Jets a top-10 defense on his own).

But yeah, not a RB.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 12:53pm

How many receivers currently in the NFL would you trade up for? How many quarterbacks? How many cornerbacks? When you compare that number to the number of players at those position in the NFL, what are the odds it will be worth it?

So lets say CJ is worth trading up for. Is Brandon Marshall? He's a good receiver, I think he's clearly worth a first round pick, but is he worth trading into the top 5 for? How do you know beforehand whether you're drafting a Marshall or a Johnson?

Also, the Jets have a top 5 defense right now without Revis. So he was good, but he wasn't solely responsible, and Tampa Bay is currently ranked 18th in pass defense.

by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 4:21pm

CBHodge is correct. Richardson was LOVED by most draftniks. Even Bill Polian chimed in with "there are 3 sure things in this draft, Luck, RG3, and Richardson". Lots of people have changed their opinion now, but at the draft Richardson was highly coveted.

by herewegobrowniesherewego (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 8:32pm

Exactly what I was saying above, that he seemed good at the time.

To address both that and Theo's post below, they figured he would produce much better than Hardesty/Hillis/Ogbonnaya/BJax. None of those guys were going to get it done (although Ogby was a good backup find for being stuck on a practice squad behind Foster/Tate.)

by Theo :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 2:39pm

It was the Browns who took him. The Browns desperately needed another QB (everyone but they knew this), 3 receivers, 4 linemen and some pieces on defense.
The LAST thing they needed was a running back.

by speedegg :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 2:29pm

Would Richardson follow the path of Lorenzo Neal (HB turned FB) and be an All-Pro Fullback? Straight line speed is there, but quickness, agility, change of direction seem missing.

by Purds :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 2:38pm

Let's not forget that Dwayne Allen was the TE blocking for Ballard and Bradshaw, not Colby Fleener. Also, as Ben (the poster) notes, they also had Thomas, not Link. But, I, too, worry not that Richardson is awful, but that he will become awful if he continues these predicable plays behind this line. He's going to get entrenched in these bad decisions. Ugh.

by Bobman :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:00am

No Allen this year when the other guys were gaining more YPC in the first few games and since then for Dammit Donald.

by tomdrees :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:55am

My takeaway from this is that Dwayne Allen is really a key cog in this offense.

Buy shoes online. I'm spam.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 2:57pm

The 3 ypc is a red herring. Ben pointed out the real problem...richardson is falling well short of what he we SHOULD be expecting.

by Theo :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 3:41pm

Just what I wonder is... do the coaches and Trent Richardson see these plays too?
You'd guess they do.

by Nate Dunlevy (not verified) :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 5:46am

Given that Brown is now getting about half the snaps?

My guess is that, yes, they see it too. There are subtle changes in the way they deal with him and talk about him.

Internally, I believe they know they made a mistake.

by Bobman :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:03am

I suspect they do and they're trying to craft a solution. Step 1 would be to run less out of a power-I. But you knew that, of course.

I really think it's just a matter of time before Brown is dinged up and misses 1.5 games and we'll be glad somebody competent (if not actually, you know, productive) is in the backfield. It could have been McGahee, or some others. But they made a slightly panicked bid for a guy they figured they'd have for a long time. If they can figure out how to use him right and minimize the downside, okay. If not.... hey, there's still Luck!

by tomdrees :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 10:54am

I'd love to see a follow-up explaining what, if anything, they adjusted coming out of the bye week.

It's great to read stuff like this from somebody who knows about line play. As much as I try, I usually just see a bunch of fat guys bumbling around.

by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 4:55pm

I'd make some pithy comment about Alabama RBs and how they're all used to the hole being five yards past the line of scrimmage because that's how far the OL pushes the defense back every play, but Eddie Lacy is showing that's not all there is to it. It's becoming clear that, barring some significant improvement, the Browns were right to cut bait on Richardson when they did, and for a first-rounder, nonetheless. The line shows serious flaws (and the lousy blocking on the outside drastically inhibits edge running as well), but if Richardson can't learn to maximize his opportunities and make plays on his own, he's going to be nothing but overpaid roster fill. The Mark Ingram comparisons are obvious but legitimate.

On the other hand, if he can pass-block, be a reasonably secure outlet receiver, and avoid fumbling, then he can still have a productive career in today's NFL. How is his pass-blocking, anyway? Any better than Brown's?

by turbohappy :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 5:01pm

Great article as always Ben and this time it's about my team which is even better!

I'm going to disagree about Reggie Wayne being a bad blocker on the outside. From what I've seen, he's not Hines Ward, but he's pretty damn good. Dwayne Allen seems pretty good also. Too bad they are both on IR now.

Fleener and TY Hilton both seem terrible and Heyward-Bey seems pretty bad, no arguments there!

So with all the discussion of "why is Indy's rush offense bad", how is it they are ranked third in the NFL by FOs stats? I watch this team every week and I have trouble believing they are the 3rd best rushing team.

by bernie (not verified) :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 6:33pm

I'm sure those numbers are massively skewed by Luck's rushing. When pretty much every one of his carries is a success by DVOA definition, then he's going to boost the numbers dramatically.

by turbohappy :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 2:13am

And DHB has the highest yds/att ;o)

by Bobman :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:07am


He kicks in about 25 yards per game and most of those are long gains, for 1st downs, or TDs. By FO standards, highly valuable carries. By traditional standards, pretty damn good, too, as the delta between a team rushing for 100 YPG and 125 YPG is about 15-20 slots in their crude yardage-based ranking. Luck's yardage alone can bump them from 25th to top-10 purely by yards.

by Perfundle :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 2:18pm

Well, Ballard's one game got him 41.8% DVOA. Bradshaw's three games got him 14.8% DVOA. Brown is at 28.9% DVOA. And Luck is at 76.0% DVOA.

So I guess all the running backs other than Richardson were great running it inside, and Luck is a great scrambler.

by Bobman :: Wed, 10/30/2013 - 2:10am

I saw Reggie involved in downfield blocking on several major plays (i.e. TDs) vs Denver. One was a funny basketball-type screen with his chest to the runner and back to the defender, arms wide, elbows up. The announcer even described it as a basketball-style boxing out.

Now Ben may downgrade that on style points, and he only needed to sustain that "block" for a couple seconds, but it was effective on a small DB.

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 11:30pm

Thanks for posting that here. I didn't know Ben wrote another column aside from "Word of Muth," and I always enjoy his analysis.
Also the "hover-to-play" GIFs are nice. They don't clog up my slowpoke computer.

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/28/2013 - 11:46pm

"Word of Muth," "Muth Read..."

How about Muth Ado About Blocking?
You Said A Muthful?
The Muthtang Ranch?
Muthkrat Love?
The Three Muthketeers?
Altitude and AziMuth?
Spicy Brown Muthtard?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 10/29/2013 - 12:55am

Mutherfu... wait, not that.

by KK Probs (not verified) :: Fri, 11/01/2013 - 8:53am

I really enjoy Ben Muth's work.