The Indianapolis Colts made it into the playoffs for the second year in a row, but after a 43-22 loss to the New England Patriots in the divisional round, it's clear that there's still work left to do. The Colts saw Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount rush for 166 yards and four touchdowns in leading his team to a victory, while they could only manage 69 rushing yards as a team.
Donald Brown carried the ball 17 times for 63 yards, while Trent Richardson carried it only three times. He finished with one yard. At the end of the day, it's Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson that will get the credit or the blame for Richardson and right now it's only "blame." Grigson sent a first round pick to the Cleveland Browns in order to acquire Richardson in Week 3 but so far he's gotten a lot less than he bargained for.
Still, Grigson is not ready to give up on the player that cost his team their first round pick this year, and he actually believes that Richardson is a big reason that his team played as well as he did. Despite what the numbers say.
Colts beat writer Mike Chappell reported on Thursday that Grigson said that Richardson "showed some progress" this season and that he was "not going anywhere."
Grigson: We don't win 12 games if Trent Richardson isn't here. Trent fits all the things we're trying to do here.— Mike Chappell (@mchappell51) January 16, 2014
Richardson played in all 14 regular season games for the Colts after he was acquired, and rushed for 458 yards on 157 carries, an average of 2.9 yards per carry. Though he carried most of the workload to begin the year, getting at least 10 carries in his first seven games with Cleveland and Indianapolis, he only had double-digit carries twice over the final nine games of the year.
In two playoff games, he had four carries for one yard and a fumble.
Only once all year did Richardson have a game where he averaged 4.0 yards per carry or more, rushing 10 times for 40 yards in Week 6.
Grigson noted that the team needed a running back and Richardson was available, so that's why he made the deal to acquire him. However, in an ironic twist, Richardson's arrival may have proven that they did already have a starting running back on the roster.
Donald Brown, a former first round pick that was a bust in his own right, had a career year and rushed for 537 yards and 5.3 yards per carry. Brown was inconsistent and didn't always get very many touches throughout the year, but when he did get a chance, he usually was considerably more effective than Richardson. But Brown is now a free agent, leaving Richardson as the presumed starter next season unless someone else is acquired.
The Colts are certain to add somebody. Not only is Brown a free agent, but Ahmad Bradshaw -- the running back that Grigson added before the season to give Brown competition -- is also hitting the open market as he recovers from neck surgery.
There's little reason to believe that Richardson will be the unquestioned starting running back for Indianapolis next season, and we know that they won't be able to replace them with their own first round pick, but Grigson is hoping that there's still some value left in this costly former star. Or they might not go to the playoffs for a third straight year.