How can Trent Richardson shed the “bust” label?

In his short career, Colts running back Trent Richardson has been nothing but a disappointment, despite what Indianapolis general manager Ryan Grigson insists. After being traded to the Colts following the second week of the 2013 season, Richardson averaged just 2.9 yards per carry, and he served as Donald Browns’ backup. The first round draft pick the Colts gave away, and I do stress the words “gave away,” was a steep price to pay for a running back that brings nothing to the table.

Still, Richardson wasn’t the third overall pick in the 2012 draft for nothing, and it’s not too late for him to turn his career around. After all, he has the right build to be a solid runner in the NFL, especially between the tackles, but he has a lot of work to do before he lives up to the expectations everyone had when he entered the league.

First and foremost, Richardson has to go above and beyond the call of duty in regards to his work ethic. Although there’s been no definitive reports of late that indicate Richardson is lazy, he didn’t exactly leave Cleveland with the greatest of reputations.

Before we can even begin to properly evaluate Richardson, we, as the audience, have to lower our expectations. That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially considering two teams have spent first round picks to bring him into their respective folds, but he’s quite simply isn’t a top runner in the league. At this point, he may be able to battle back to be a solid starting running back for the Colts, but we need to abandon any hope of him becoming the elite running back many thought he could be coming out of Alabama.

In fact, beyond a revised definition of what success should mean, Trent Richardson’s biggest problem is a lack of commitment, at least that’s the case if reports out of Cleveland upon his exit are to be believed. Evidence on the field supports that notion as well.

In fact, when he did get the opportunity to run the ball for the Colts, Richardson lacked vision and decisiveness. He rarely saw holes that Brown would hit without a second thought, and on the rare occasions he actually did see the hole, he was unable to get vertical in time to make any meaningful yardage out of the play.

The Colts will likely insist that they’d trade their first round pick in 2014 for Richardson all over again if they had the choice to take it back, but that’s simply not true. Anyone with an understanding of the most rudimentary statistics can see that Richardson underperformed last season.

In his time with the Colts last season, Richardson carried the ball 157 times for just 458 yards. Brown carried the ball 102 times for 537 yards. Without actually pulling out a calculator, we can see that Brown out produced Richardson with just two-thirds of Richardson’s total carries.

At the end of the day, I can’t see a scenario in which Richardson rebounds. Is it possible? Sure, but for all the talent he carried out of college, he’s shown very little ability to be an effective runner in the NFL. He still has the physical skillset, meaning his biggest problem is himself. Unfortunately, most players don’t simply develop a great work ethic overnight, and there’s no reason to expect Richardson will be able to develop such a work ethic either.

About Shane Clemons

Shane Clemons came from humble beginnings creating his own Jaguars blog before moving on to SBNation as a featured writer for the Jaguars. He then moved to Bloguin where he briefly covered the AFC South before taking over Bloguin's Jaguars blog. Since the inception of This Given Sunday, Shane has served as an editor for the site, doing his best not to mess up a good thing.