Colts name rookie Richardson as their Week 1 starting QB

Colts name rookie Richardson as their Week 1 starting QB

The Indianapolis Colts have named rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson as their starter in Week 1, new head coach Shane Steichen announced Tuesday morning.

“Honestly, I was shocked,” Richardson said.

Indianapolis selected the University of Florida product with the No. 4 overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Richardson made his preseason debut this past Saturday at Buffalo, completing 7-of-12 passes for 67 yards with one interception in only one quarter of play.

Indy wide receiver Alec Pierce dropped a potential touchdown pass that Richardson put right on the money.

“Anthony’s just been progressing,” Steichen said. “The growth he’s shown then, obviously, going into Buffalo, playing against a lot of their starters, he showed great signs of improvement. I like the things he did and it’s an opportunity now for him to get a lot more with the [starters] moving forward and we go from there.”

Richardson threw his one pick on the opening drive, but he bounced back to lead the Colts into Bills’ territory on the next two possessions. The last drive went 77 yards and ended in a missed field goal.

Richardson was competing for the starting job with Gardner Minshew, a 27-year-old veteran that’s entering his fifth season in the league. Steichen reportedly informed Richardson and Minshew of the decision Monday night, and then Richardson and Steichen went on to have a two-hour conversation.

There were wildly varying opinions on Richardson going into the draft. Many NFL insiders felt he was a project that wasn’t ready to play, while others who were seemingly in the minority were confident that his size, arm strength and athleticism would make up for his perceived accuracy issues and lack of experience.

I’ve consistently said that he’s going to be a really good NFL player and potentially great. The ease with which he makes powerful throws down the field, along with his combination of speed and quickness for his size, are traits that can’t be taught and are extremely rare to find.

Many of Richardson’s doubters point to a pair of horrible performances he put on film at Florida last season.

However, few of those folks were willing to point out that those miserable outings – a home loss vs. Kentucky and a narrow victory over a dreadful South Florida squad – were only the third and fourth starts of his career. And we should note that his first start in 2021 ended before halftime when he was injured against Georgia, the eventual national champion.

Richardson led the Gators to a 29-26 upset win over Utah in last year’s opener, rushing for 106 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries. He completed 17-of-24 passes for 168 yards without a turnover.

That performance, which vaulted him into a top contender for the Heisman at least in terms of the betting odds going into Week 2, also played a role in the harsh criticism Richardson received after the games vs. UK and USF.

To be clear, he was absolutely awful in those contests. Richardson completed merely 14-of-35 throws for 143 yards with two interceptions against the Wildcats, who won 26-16 at The Swamp as six-point road underdogs. He had only four rushing yards on six attempts.

Then in the 31-28 victory over the Bulls, he threw for only 118 yards on 10-of-18 passing and was picked off twice again.

But as ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky has noted many times, Richardson was the victim of a lot of drops by Florida WRs in 2022, making his mediocre 53.8 completion percentage misleading.

UF’s 6-6 record in his 12 starts last year was also deceiving. For the third straight season, the Gators had a horrible defense.

Richardson and UF’s offense put up 33 points at Tennessee, only to lose a 38-33 decision. The Gators scored 35 points at home vs. LSU, only to drop another one-possession game. They scored 38 points at FSU and lost again.

In the loss against the Volunteers, which was his first career road start in front of more than 100,000 raucous fans, Richardson threw for 453 yards and two TDs, in addition to rushing for 62 yards and two TDs.

During a four-game stretch vs. LSU, vs. UGA, at Texas A&M and vs. South Carolina, Richardson threw six TD passes without an interception and added four rushing TDs. The Gators beat the Aggies 41-24 in College Station, with Richardson rushing for 78 yards and two TDs on just seven attempts.

Even with five WRs out injured, including starters Justin Shorter and Xzavier Henderson, Richardson threw three TD passes at FSU. He had a 12/2 TD-INT ratio in UF’s last six games.

Richardson’s final numbers at UF for the 2022 season included 2,549 passing yards with a 17/9 TD-INT ratio. He ran for 654 yards and nine TDs, averaging 6.3 yards per carry.

Richardson had 1,116 career rushing yards and 12 TDs on 161 attempts for a 6.9 career YPC average.

DraftKings has Richardson’s ‘over/under’ for passing yards at 2,600.5 (‘over’ -120, ‘under’ +100) in his rookie campaign. He has a total of 15.5 for TD passes (‘over’ -125, ‘under’ +105).

Richardson has the third-shortest odds (+600) to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. Atlanta RB Bijan Robinson is the +275 ‘chalk’ at DraftKings, while Carolina QB Bryce Young has the next-shortest odds (+500).

I have scoured multiple betting shops searching for Richardson’s ‘over/under’ on rushing yards without any success. FanDuel does have a prop, however, for most total rushing yards by a QB. Chicago’s Justin Fields is the +170 favorite, while Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson has +260 odds. Richardson and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts shared the next-shortest odds (+400).

 

 

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