The Colts are repeating the sins of the Andrew Luck era with Anthony Richardson

The Colts are repeating the sins of the Andrew Luck era with Anthony Richardson

We’re solely two video games into the Anthony Richardson period in Indianapolis and it’s not too early to confess that the bodily punishment he’s subjecting himself to is a trigger for concern. 4 years in the past, Andrew Luck retired mid-preseason from the identical crew Richardson now helms, to the astonishment of followers. The cumulative impact of years of hits had taken their toll on his 6-foot-4, 240 pound body. Luck wasn’t considered as a working quarterback due to his pocket proficiency, however no person informed the defenders who pummeled him into early retirement each behind the road of scrimmage and as luck bravely took on linebackers whereas scrambling to achieve additional yards. By age 29, his physique was worn down. He’d gone underneath the knife to restore a number of shoulder accidents, lacerated a kidney, partially torn his belly muscle, torn cartilage in his ribs and strained a calf. His speeding highlights are majestic and wince-inducing on reflection.

There’s a diminishing return related to working your colossal quarterback like a fullback. Coaches really feel compelled to make use of them like battering rams relatively than face the criticism of losing their brawn. The Colts are discovering the fragile stability between having a quarterback with the scale and power of Derrick Henry and instructing him methods to wield that energy sparsely. The larger they’re, the tougher they fall is an axiom that applies to quarterbacks as properly.

Six minutes into his first quarter of the Colts’ conflict with the Houston Texans on Sunday, Colts head coach Shane Steichen dialed up a faux reverse that opened up the left aspect of the sphere for Richardson to sprint into the endzone for his second speeding landing of the sport. Nonetheless, on his manner in, security M.J. Stewart delivered a authorized hit to Richardson that despatched the quarterback flying and resulted in his head bouncing off the turf. One way or the other, Richardson’s concussion slipped by means of the cracks and he remained within the sport for 2 extra possessions earlier than he was taken to the medical tent, then left completely for the locker room.

Structurally, Richardson is as sturdy a quarterback as there may be. He’s 240 kilos of brolic mass streamlined into an aerodynamic body. Nonetheless, the best capability is availability, and Richardson’s measurement might matter much less and fewer the extra constantly places himself in danger by throwing his physique round. In week 1, Richardson scored on a designed run up the intestine of the protection. Within the fourth quarter, he briefly left the sport after showing to be dazed on an identical run.

Taking hits is a part of the sport, however the frequency with which Steichen makes use of Richardson as a runner and with which Richardson seeks out contact places him at a excessive danger of taking hits that go away him dazed or worse. Richardson could seem like an 18-wheeler, however in a great world the place he wasn’t pressed into speedy motion, he’d be dealt with with the care of a classic muscle automotive.

Steichen’s earlier quarterback protégé, Jalen Hurts, spent an additional season at Lincoln Riley’s Quarterback Ending College in Oklahoma honing his grasp of the sport from the pocket. Richardson was drafted as an unrefined block of marble. At Florida, that physicality earned him the Superman moniker due to his mutant-like feats of pace and power. He was a lot larger and sooner than most opposing defenders–even within the SEC– that there have been fewer penalties.

Nonetheless, Richardson getting rocked by a defensive again makes me harken again to former defensive finish Chris Lengthy recounting his welcome to the NFL second. All through coaching camp, Lengthy watched 6-foot-2, 240 pound working again, Steven Jackson in observe, questioned if he was probably the most bodily imposing specimen he’d ever seen, observing him snort smelling salt packages just for him to get leveled by Eagles nook Sheldon Brown and realizing the NFL is a distinct beast.

In a single prompt, Lengthy went from watching Jackson in awe, questioning if it was doable to deal with him in house to evaluating it to a film the place the perfect you have got goes on the market and will get pumped within the mouth and everybody else is trying round questioning what to do now. After taking off the pink observe jersey, Richardson is studying that lesson firsthand, and so are the Colts play callers. The compulsion for the Colts teaching workers and Richardson himself to make use of his power in speeding conditions must be weighed in opposition to the worth of defending his long-term well being.

It’s Steichen’s job to drill two priorities into Richardson’s head. Defend the ball and shield himself. Thus far, he’s been unable to do the latter. For the second time in two weeks, Richardson suffered an harm attempting to rumble ahead for additional yardage. 

Three or Richardson’s offensive scores by means of 5 quarters have been speeding touchdowns and one got here by air. That ratio is unsustainable. The Colts are reliant on Richardson’s legs as a result of he’s a comparatively novice at diagnosing complicated defensive coverages. We witnessed that inexperience in motion all through his junior yr at Florida when he was one of many SEC’s most erratic quarterbacks.

With out Jonathan Taylor within the Colts backfield, Richardson’s legs are considered one of Indy’s most dependable instruments for activating the bottom sport. Richardson’s first NFL landing was a designed run up the center. In Week 1, RIchardson’s yardage on the bottom was triple Indy’s subsequent main rusher, Deon Jackson. In Week 2, Zach Moss picked up 88 yards. If Richardson can’t matriculate the offense downfield with out pummeling his personal physique into submission, it is perhaps time for Gardner Minshew to carry down the fort till he’s prepared.

Observe DJ Dunson on X: @cerebralsportex