Rookie Indianapolis Colts QB Anthony Richardson started one season at Florida and threw 327 passes, completing only 53.8%.
The Colts drafted him with the fourth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft because he’s a physical freak with a strong work ethic and unlimited potential.
Conventional wisdom says pairing him with a solid running game would make him a better quarterback as he learns on the fly in the NFL.
The Colts disagree.
They’ve failed to negotiate a contract extension or trade their best player: disgruntled running back Jonathan Taylor. So, he’s starting the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List, which means he’ll miss the first four games. He had arthroscopic ankle surgery in the offseason, and he’s still not 100 percent.
“We’re not going to put a player on the field that’s still complaining of pain in the ankle,” general manager Chris Ballard told reporters. “I wouldn’t do that to any player, wouldn’t treat anyone differently. So what Jonathan will do is he will rehab his butt off and try to get himself ready to go.”
Jonathan Taylor’s running pedigree
Oddly, the Colts don’t think there would be any correlation between Taylor’s success and Richardson’s performance.
“I don’t think it stunts his growth – not at all,” Ballard said.
“Did it stunt Andrew’s (Luck) growth without a special back?”
- Jonathan Taylor stats: 3,841 rushing yards, 5.1 average, 104 receptions, 802 yards, 36 total TD
Luck was the consensus No.1 pick in the 2012 draft. He started 38 games at Stanford and threw 1,064 passes.
His father, Oliver, was an NFL quarterback for the Houston Oilers from 1982-86. Luck had considerably more pedigree than Richardson, and he still completed just 54 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
Perhaps a better runner than Vick Ballard, who gained 814 yards and averaged 3.9 yards per carry, would’ve made Luck a better player as a rookie.
Taylor is an elite runner.
Taylor would help keep Richardson out of third-and-long situations, where defensive coordinators can employ complicated schemes. Instead, Richardson will be the epicenter of the offense while Taylor recovers.
The Colts permitted Taylor to seek a trade, but no team came close to meeting the asking price of a first-round pick or a comparable player.
“It sucks for the Colts, it sucks for Jonathan Taylor, and it sucks for our fans,” Ballard said. “It’s where we’re at, and we’ve got to work through it, and we’re going to do everything we can to work through it.
“Relationships are repairable. They’re repairable. When guys get emotional and take a stance, you’ve got to be able to work through those. We’ve got work to do. We have work to do on the relationship. We got work to do to find a solution to the problem and what we’re gonna do.”
How Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is adding to the problem
Colts owner Jim Irsay isn’t helping. He posted a birthday shoutout on X (formerly Twitter) to former running back Ricky Williams.
“Happy birthday to RICKY WILLIAMS (2002-03). Ricky, at 5’7”, only played two seasons —but saved his best as a birthday gift for Tony Dungy and the great 2003 comeback at Tampa. 13 carries, 56 yds, 7 receptions —and two key TD runs.”
The Colts went 9-8 when Taylor rushed for 1,811 yards and 18 touchdowns. They finished 4-12, with Taylor rushing for 1,179 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Ballard said the Colts will continue to search for a solution and get him signed.
“I felt I was very honest with all my discussions, and I’ve thought through what we could have done differently — I’m sure both sides would probably tell you, ‘man, I wish I had done something a little bit differently,” Ballard said.
“But the one thing I do know, it doesn’t do me any good — anybody any good — to sit up here say it’s somebody else’s fault. That’s not productive. It doesn’t help you find a solution.”