The Cleveland Browns trading star running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts has stolen almost every NFL headline in the days since the shocking trade was announced. Las Vegas oddsmakers see the trade as beneficial to the Colts, and a great boost to their chances this season, increasing their Super Bowl odds from 50/1 to 45/1. Some experts, such as Prediction Machine and Mike Foss of the USA Today, maintain that the trade actually make the Colts worse.
Something is wrong with that statement.
Has the NFL and its s0-called experts completely given up on the idea of a balanced offense? Once a well-rounded passing and rushing attack was the goal of every NFL coach and team. Now, in a pass-happy era, hardly any teams possess a feature running back to shoulder the load and grind out a victory.
Hard nose, black and blue bruising football may be a thing of the past due to rule changes to protect player safety, but the running game still has a place in the NFL. Just ask the 49ers, who were run over by the Seahawks on Monday night last week.
Yet somehow the Prediction Machine says that the Colts division championship chances drop from 7.5 to 6.6 percent by acquiring Richardson. This happens despite the fact that stats for both Luck and the Colts rushing attack increase across the board as a result.
Maybe adding a running back makes your own defense worse. Who knows.
Teams may be favoring a platoon of running backs more than ever, as well as forgoing the run as the Packers have done the past several seasons in lieu of the pass, yet the running game is still needed to be a contender.
Don’t believe me? Look at last year’s Super Bowl matchup. Both Baltimore and San Francisco had elite backs in Ray Rice and Frank Gore, with San Francisco also getting a lot of mileage from the legs of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The benefits of a run game are easy to see for Luck. Accounting for the threat of Richardson will lessen the frequency of two deep safety defense, enabling Luck and his receivers to thrive with the deep ball. Stretching the defense in a balanced offense is an easy way to carve through an opponent. The Colts will be tough to plan for.
Reasoning for the Prediction Machine’s assertion that the Colts will be worse includes the following.
“[T]hrowing less (with slightly greater efficiency) and running more (at notably weaker efficiency) has an essentially neutral impact on the Colts’ scoring average, specifically because the team still projects to be an above average passing team and a below average rushing team. The addition of Richardson, while great for headlines, does not improve the Colts chance of making the playoffs this year.”
Sure, the point totals at the end of the day may not improve much, but things like time of possession will with the presence of a ground attack. This will shorten the number of times an opponent has the ball, taking some pressure off of a defense that has struggled to this point in 2013.
To say, like these so-called experts said, that the Colts will finish with the fifth worst record in the NFL seems down right crazy. This is a team that was 11-5 a year ago, and now has a balanced looking offense. There is not much reason to believe the team can’t repeat its success from a year ago, they surely will at least remain relevant in the AFC South talks as the year goes on.
Trent Richardson makes the Colts worse? In the words of Keyshawn Johnson “C’mon Man!”
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express