Friends, we gather here today to remember Trent Richardson. He has not left us forever, as his human spirit still lives on. But his football spirit animal faded into the Thursday night sky.
It happened slowly. Or rather, it has happened slowly throughout a period of weeks, each gradually increasingly the burden we feel while watching Richardson. It has not been fun, or entertaining, or for fantasy purposes, at all profitable.
But last night during the Colts 30-27 win over the Titans that required another second-half comeback (they outscored Tennessee 24-10 in the second half, and Indy has now been outscored 66-12 in the first half over the past three weeks), we may have seen the end. Oh, Richardson will still get carries and touches, and he’ll still break the odd one for a gain of some significance. The statement made in the final minutes last night, though, was damning.
It was the fourth quarter, and the Colts were up by three on the road with 7:41 left. Thus started a drive that ideally would be long to drain precious seconds off the clock, and also ideally would end in points of some kind. To achieve both of those things, an effective and pounding running back was needed. This is a situation where the sort of running back who can clash between the tackles and carry defenders for five more yards is called upon. It’s the sort of situation where a running back who makes confident and quick decisions in the backfield to hit a hole hard is vital, and the lifeblood of a win. It’s the sort of situation that fits Trent Richardson, because he does all of those things, or so we thought.
But there was Donald Brown on that drive, our new savior. Right now as we bask in the morning glow of his performance, those who had the manhood to plug Brown in as a flex play are doing victory dances around offices while saying something about 80 rushing yards at a pace of 5.7 yards per carry and two touchdowns. Add in his 14 receiving yards, and that’s a cool 21 fantasy points for a guy who was not only marginally started, he’s even more marginally owned. My jaw actually fell right off after looking at Brown’s ownership in ESPN and Yahoo leagues despite a recently increasing role that peaked last night (only 7% in ESPN leagues, and 24% in Yahoo leagues).
Back to that drive, though. That delicious, game-sealing final drive, as it’s where Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton made their most definitive statement about Brown, Richardson, and the driver of their backfield. Of Brown’s 14 total carries, six of them came during that crucial, clock killing time. That resulted in three carries for more than 10 yards, including Brown’s 11-yard touchdown run, his second of the night. He totaled 54 yards on that drive alone, doing both the scoring and the clock crunching (3:36 ticked off the game clock).
What did Richardson do on said critical drive to clinch a divisional road win? He ran for three yards on two carries. Although he redeemed himself slightly with 31 receiving yards on five catches, Richardson’s 2.8 yards per carry was nearly three full yards lower than the pace posted by Brown.
You can’t trust him, you can’t start him. And since Richardson now has six games with less than 40 rushing yards to his name this year, I’m not sure you can draft him next summer if this keeps up.
More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
Chris Johnson has just a weird, strange night
It was terrific seeing a flash of the old CJ2K last night, which we’ve still seen periodically despite his overall struggles. There were gaping holes created by Andy Levitre et al on the Titans’ offensive line, and Johnson blasted through them with little hesitation into the open field. Fantasy owners were clearly elated to see Johnson chugging and scoring twice, one of which came on a 30-yard run. But simply as a fan of good football, it was nice to see Johnson kind of, sort of back.
What’s remarkable, though, is that he accomplished a rare feat of
strength weakness: of Johnson’s 86 total rushing yards, 70 of them came in just the first quarter. That’s both amazing and dumbfounding, because rushing for 70 yards in one quarter is always stupid good, but then it’s assumed you’ll at least get to 100 somehow throughout the rest of the game. Yet there was our boy Johnson, rushing for just 16 yards in three quarters, with the Colts’ front seven solving him quickly.
Adjusting still isn’t his strong suit.
In which I quote myself
Trent Richardson over his last four games: 81 rushing yards. Donald Brown tonight: 80 yards. It’s over.
— Sean Tomlinson (@Score_Tomlinson) November 15, 2013
Hey, I already said it through Twitter dot com, so there ya go. A cursory glance at some digits shows that Brown’s dominance over Richardson isn’t at all just a one game deal.
Elsewhere in social media shares, Adam Schefter wants you to know what beast moding looks like.
Dez Bryant is such a selfish jerk
No, no he’s not.
So my friend was at Best Buy for a PS4 and Dez Bryant walked in and bought one for her and four other people pic.twitter.com/lN7dVMwJ91
— Kells (@BRedLove) November 15, 2013
I’m not sure if this says more about Foles being awesome, or Manning being terrible
Either way, um, wow.
If Nick Foles’ next 31 pass attempts are all intercepted, he would still have a higher passer rating than Eli Manning.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) November 15, 2013