Oakland Raiders: Too Soon To Call Richardson Experiment A Bust, Isn’t It?


The Oakland Raiders were taking a big flyer when they signed free agent running back Trent Richardson. It’s hard to blame them for rolling the dice though, given the fact that last year’s backs – Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew – were only slightly more productive than fresh roadkill. Though we believe the roadkill had a better yards per carry average.

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Though he hasn’t been a Raider very long, if you believe Oakland beat writer Vic Tafur is hearing “whispers” that Richardson may be on the way out of the Bay Area sooner rather than later. And this, before training camp has even gotten underway.

Not to be the annoying eternal optimist or anything, but isn’t it a little early to declare the Richardson experiment a bust? Shouldn’t we perhaps wait until they’re in pads, doing some live hitting, and actually maybe playing some ball before we throw dirt on Richardson’s coffin? Maybe?

Richardson was brought to Oakland for a fresh start, to find his game again. GM Reggie McKenzie and HC Jack Del Rio believed that a change of scenery as well as a return to a system that he was comfortable in and familiar with – a system with similar concepts to those of Alabama, where Richardson had his most productive and exciting plays – would spark a resurgence of the young and talented, but thus far, disappointing back.

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  • When you’re the third overall pick in the draft and you don’t even manage to perform like the three hundredth pick, you will find that you are ripe for criticism. Real or imagined, people are going to find reasons to criticize you and pick your game apart. And that is the position Richardson currently finds himself in.

    Given his track record in the NFL – he has a combined 614 carries, 2,032 yards, 3.3 ypc, and 17 touchdowns in his three year career – it’s not difficult to see why Richardson finds himself constantly being second guessed and criticized. And yeah, some of it is self inflicted, but he believes that he was also a bad scheme fit in his stops in Cleveland and Indianapolis.

    Tafur’s revelation came as something of a surprise and read almost like a throwaway line at the end of one of his recent articles. It was a line that has garnered plenty of attention though, and certainly has a lot of lips flapping. He wrote:

    "“Latavius Murray will get every chance to be the lead running back as whispers are that the Trent Richardson reclamation project is not going so well.”"

    The problem with these “whispers” and “anonymous sources” is that there is no way to verify the information being passed along. There is no way to verify who said what, and no way to verify that this wasn’t a much smaller comment taken completely out of context in a much larger piece.

    Regardless of who said what though, it seems entirely too early to pull the plug on Richardson as a failed experiment. Running around in shorts and a helmet isn’t necessarily going to give you the most accurate prediction of how they’re going to do when the hitting gets real.

    And besides, what we also heard from OL coach Mike Tice – which seems to contradict Tafur’s report. In a recent a recent interview, Tice said:

    "“I thought the young man from Alabama came on. He lost some weight and his quickness came around.”"

    So let’s see, in one corner, coach Mike Tice says tht Richardson is doing fine, that his quickness is back, and that his weight issues – something that plagued him in Indianapolis – are under control. In the other corner, you have some faceless, anonymous person taking shots at Richardson from the dark – and having Oakland beat writers like Vic Tafur give them a little legitimacy and life.

    It’s true that Richardson may ultimately not pan out. Maybe he really is the running back he’s showed us to be these past few years – the running back we all shake our head and roll our eyes at. But maybe, he’s better than he’s shows us. Maybe, he will thrive in OC Bill Musgrave‘s system. Maybe, just maybe, he and fellow running back Latavius Murray will team up and become the most lethal one-two punch in the league.

    The point is, at this moment we just don’t know. So to declare that Richardson is another failed get by McKenzie, at this point, seems a bit premature and silly. Let’s let the guy put on the pads and start hitting one another. Let him battle it and and compete for a starting gig. Let him get into some live game action during the preseason.

    After that, if Richardson is still looking like – well – Richardson, and not a player reborn, yeah fine, kick him to the curb. The Raiders can cut him with very little financial ramifications – it’s the beauty of taking a flyer on a guy like Richardson, it is very low risk/high reward.

    But before you declare him dead and finished, let the guy play. Let the guy battle. Let the guy compete. Because he could potentially breathe some life into a Raiders rushing attack – and an offense as a whole – that desperately needs it.

    Next: 6 Reasons Del Rio Might Be On To Something