Running back Trent Richardson had 13 carries and two receptions during the Cleveland Browns' 23-10 season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday. He had only five carries in the second half, none of which came in a fourth quarter that opened with his team down just three points.
That's clearly not enough for Richardson.
In an interview with Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, the second-year back expressed frustration with the play calling in the second half.
"I don't think [the Dolphins] really stopped the running game, I think we stopped it ourselves as far as just getting away from [it]. We were behind and stuff like that, and we’ve just got to keep fighting. And no matter what, we got to stick to our game plan. And I guess coach had another game plan and it went that way."
Richardson, who got off to a good start with 26 yards off four carries in the Browns' opening drive, went on to say that he would ideally be receiving around 25 carries per game.
While this could be interpreted as selfish whining on Richardson's part, he seems to have a solid point. The Browns perform better when he gets his carries, and Ulrich has the stats to back it up:
In the five games in which Richardson had 20 carries or more last season, he averaged 95.8 rushing yards per game, and the Browns went 3-2. In the 10 games in which he received fewer than 20 carries, he averaged 45.1 rushing yards per game, and the Browns went 2-8.
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner agrees with his feature back, admitting that he strayed away from his game plan after the Dolphins began sending run blitzes. He believes Richardson could have had more success if given increased opportunities.
"I think if we’d gotten [Richardson] his -- what I’d like to see him in that over 20 carries -- I think he would’ve had more production," Turner told Ulrich.
To his credit, Richardson stated that he was willing to cut his carries for the benefit of the team, explaining that "if it’s going to help the team out that I get less carries, I’m all for it."
Until quarterback Brandon Weeden can show more consistency, however, it's hard to imagine a scenario where fewer touches by Richardson could be a good thing for the Browns.