The running back is setting records, but low averages are raising eyebrows.
By FRED GREETHAM FS Ohio
BEREA—On the surface, it appears that rookie
Trent Richardson is having an outstanding season. He has set the Browns single season rookie record in scrimmage yards and numerous other records.
With three games to play, Richardson needs just 131 yards to hit the 1,000-yard mark. He already has rushed for nine touchdowns, tying a record held since Jim Brown scored nine touchdowns as a rookie in 1957. He has also caught a receiving touchdown to give him 10 touchdowns for the season.
Besides the 869 yards rushing he has amassed, Richardson also has 348 yards receiving to give him a total of 1,217 yards from scrimmage. Eric Metcalf held the mark from 1989 when he rushed for 633 yards and added 397 in receiving for a total of 1,030 yards.
In addition, Richardson needs just 74 yards to pass Brown’s rookie rushing record of 942 yards set in 1957.
However, with all that, Richardson averaged just 2.3 yards a carry last week against the Chiefs on 18 carries for 42 yards. His longest run was for eight yards. However, he did score two touchdowns. On the season, Richardson is averaging 3.5 yards a carry.
Meanwhile, Montario Hardesty has looked much more explosive in recent weeks. Last week, he had 52 yards on 10 carries (5.2 avg.), including a 25-yard run. Hardesty has carried the ball 46 times on the season for 215 yards for a 4.7 average, including one touchdown.
Offensive coordinator Brad Childress defended Richardson saying it was more of the blocking schemes.
“It’s more of us doing a better job of blocking,” Childress said. “People say, ‘How come when Montario comes in he looks more explosive?’ I don’t think you can put your finger on any one thing.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with Trent,” he said. “It has more to do with our blocking.”
Richardson’s longest run of the season was a 32-yard burst in the second game of the season against the Bengals for a touchdown. Childress thinks Richardson has done what is expected of him, especially finding a way to get into the end zone last week twice.
“He was effective,” Childress said. “I know the 2.3 yards per carry when you see Adrian Peterson averaging 6.5. There are things we could do better offensively that would allow him to do more. Are there things he could do better? sure.”
Richardson missed the entire preseason coming off of arthroscopic knee surgery. He then injured his ribs early in the Bengals win at home and has played seven games with a flak jacket. It has been reported that Richardson is playing at about 80 percent and won’t be fully healthy until 2013.
“I think Trent is a grind-out runner,” Pat Shurmur said. “He can handle carrying the football numerous times. There are times when it doesn’t look like it’s always a pretty run and its four or five yards. That’s what’s important because down to down you want efficient runs. Of course, he’s shown throughout the year that he can get the ball in the end zone. That’s also important. You want to put players on the field that know how to get it in there.”
Richardson credits his line for his success and for protecting him.
“The line in playing excellent,” Richardson said. “The O-line is protecting the quarterback and doing whatever they can. Downfield, they are making sure no one is jumping on my ribs or hitting me late. They are protecting me at all times. They are fighting for us the whole time and those are the types of guys you need to build a dynasty and a successful team.”
Richardson is not to let on whether his seemingly lack of explosiveness is due to his ribs.
“Like I said, I’m going to go 100 percent and I’m going to give everything I can,” Richardson said. “If it’s running, catching, whatever it is I’m going to do everything I can, blocking, no matter what. If I don’t have the ball in my hands and if I’m on the sideline, I’m still going to be cheering, getting guys up and motivating them any time I can and doing whatever I can to put them in positions to score.”
Jauron Expects RG3: Defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said that the defense is preparing for Robert Griffin III to play.
“We’re preparing for RGIII to be out there this week,” Jauron said.“They are a very, very talented offense with a very talented quarterback.”
Jauron said the Browns can try to spy on him at all times but it’s hard to cope with his speed.
“You’d like to have a lot of eyes on him, but you have to have bodies be able to catch him,” Jauron said. “You have to be aggressive but able to stay on your feet at the same time.”
Jauron said there is no question that Griffin III puts pressure on the defense as a threat to run and throw.
“It stresses everybody,” Jauron said. “They play different personnel groupings and spread you out. I think everybody will be stressed.”
Shurmur said he is not influenced by the reports he hears coming out of the Redskins camp.
“I’m not influenced because I see how I do it here,” he said. “We have a tight net, but sometimes things slip through here.”
Offensive coordinator Brad Childress is impressed with what he has seen in Griffin III.
“I don’t see how you can be anything other than impressed,” Childress said. “
Childress was asked if he would try to have Griffin III not run as often as he does if he were coaching him.
“When you have an RG3, you don’t try and coach that out of him and have him stand there like an iron deer in the lawn.”
Head Coach Again: Childress was asked if he’d like to be a head coach once again.
“If the timing is right and the people are right, that’d be great,” he said. “If not, I can say I’ve been there and done that.”
Getting Confident: Shurmur said he senses the Browns gaining confidence each week-particularly after they win.
“I think there’s some confidence when you win games,” he said. “It only helps if you use that to get better. I hope we continue to play better each week. As a coach, that’s what you hope for.”
Shurmur Praises Jauron: There is no question that defensive coordinator Dick Jauron has done a good job with the Browns defense. Shurmur said the first guy he sought permission for and wanted to hire was Dick Jauron.
“When you become a head coach, the most important thing you do is to assemble your staff,” Shurmur said. “They’re all good teachers. If I was to do it over I would’ve hired an offensive coordinator to complete the staff.
“I admired (Jauron) for a long time, first as a teacher and what he has accomplished,” Shurmur said. “The leadership that Dick provides is just outstanding. That quiet confidence is important and I lean on that.”
Childress was asked if he was asked by Shurmur to be the offensive coordinator in 2011.
“I talked to Pat and thought he was going to be his own offensive coordinator,” Childress said. “So I gained about 30 pounds and was drinking flowery drinks with little umbrellas in them and wearing a big hat.”
Jimmy in the House: Owner Jimmy Haslam was back from the NFL owners meetings in Texas and was out on the practice field Thursday.
Still Healthy: All 53 players currently on the active roster were at practice Thursday. It marked the fifth-straight practice the Browns were at full strength. On the official injury report, WR Josh Cribbs (ankle), DL Juqua Parker (ankle) and OL Joe Thomas (back) were listed as limited.
Homecoming: LB London Fletcher played at John Carroll and is coming back to play in his hometown. He didn’t practice Wednesday with an ankle injury, but he is expected to play Sunday.
“He’s amazing isn’t he?” Shurmur said. “I admire him for a lot of reasons. He’s a guy that has flown a little under the radar. I’ve played against him enough to know that’s not the case.”
Fletcher has not missed any games and has 150 tackles with three interceptions, three forced fumbles and a sack.
Jauron said Fletcher is a rare player.
“He has worked extremely hard his whole career,” Jauron said. “He was very directed and focused and wasn’t going to let anyone stop him from playing. He has all the characteristics and intangibles that are needed to play.”