Trent Richardson has spent much of the 2012 NFL season playing the role of “savior” for Cleveland Browns fans and has become a favorite of everyone who follows Browns football around the world. Richardson’s big play ability has come as a great boost to the Browns offense and his statistics are comparable to those of the great Jim Brown throughout his rookie season.
However, that has not stopped an apparent running back controversy among the media covering Cleveland football.
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, there have been questions surrounding Richardson’s effectiveness over recent weeks and there are inner grumblings that backup running back, Montario Hardesty, should deserve more opportunities.
Rosenthal wrote in a piece posted on December 14, “Richardson is averaging 24 carries per game during the past month, without a 100-yard game. He hasn’t averaged more than 3.6 yards per carry in any of those games and was held to just 42 yards last week. For perspective, New York Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw has the same number of yards as Richardson this season in 51 fewer attempts.”
Much of the criticism of Richardson started earlier in the season as team broadcasters and fans began saying that the running back takes too long to hit the holes and spends too much time “dancing” behind the line of scrimmage.
On the other hand, Hardesty has had a bit of career resurgence this season and is starting to show glimpses of why the Browns thought so highly of him when they drafted him a few years ago. Hardesty is averaging more than 1 yard per carry higher than Richardson and has had some big runs late in games that have helped propel the team to victory.
It is unlikely that there will be a huge difference in the amount of opportunities Richardson will receive over the last few weeks, especially with the Browns still hanging on the edge of playoff contention. Offensive coordinator Brad Childress said in his press conference this week that “It’s nice to have two different kinds of backs, because the defense kind of sets its cleats in the ground for one style run. Then somebody else comes in, and all of a sudden it’s a little different style running. Montario’s been able to have some explosive plays and give us production. Not ridiculous production, but enough production where you’re not afraid to say give him the next series.”
It will be interesting to see how the Browns handle the running back situation over the course of the next few weeks and it is needless to say that the team has invested a lot into Richardson’s talents. The Browns take on the Washington Redskins at Cleveland Browns Stadium this Sunday at 1 P.M.