Trent Richardson made his Raiders debut against the Rams on Friday night and it wound up looking a lot like a pretty typical outing for the NFL version of Richardson.
He ran five times for 18 yards and wound up as a punchline across the internet thanks to video and freeze-frames that appear to show him bypassing a gaping hole on the left side of the offensive line that led to the end zone in favor of following the flow of the play for a two-yard gain on the more crowded right side of the field. It’s not the first time Richardson has been criticized for missing an opening for a bigger gain and it fits right into the narrative that Richardson’s built for himself through poor performances in Cleveland and Indianapolis.
Those performances likely have more to do with the reaction than the one play from Saturday night. We don’t know exactly what the coaching staff wanted Richardson to do on that play and other angles rather than the damning end zone one linked above make it a lot less clear that Richardson would be strolling for a touchdown due as Rams defenders were filling into the space.
The Washington Post compiled a bunch of reactions to the play from both sides, including a clip of another run from Saturday that shows Richardson doing the opposite and bouncing a play outside for a bigger gain. That doesn’t mean Richardson did the right thing on the run that’s gotten him pilloried throughout cyberspace, but it does mean that there’s not much benefit of the doubt for a player who hasn’t done much to earn it in three NFL seasons.