Daryl Richardson has been named the starting RB for the Rams for the regular season, as confirmed by the P-D's Jim Thomas yesterday. It is an ironic statement on behalf of the modern NFL running back, though.
Make no mistake - Richardson is the least skilled running back among himself, Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy. What I've often suggested is that his awareness of his own limitations is what makes him so useful.
Fans complain about running backs "dancing behind the line", but there's rarely a direct understanding that the dancing has to do with one of two factors: a lack of vision (or foresight, as it were) or bad O-line play. Certainly, no running back should be faulted for the latter. Rarely do running backs get credited for the opposite of the former (though this scouting report on Stacy from the SBN Vanderbilt blog Anchor of Gold did...).
And so it is that Richardson, the back who lacks power, lacks elusiveness and lacks top end speed, is now the Rams starting running back.
What's ironic then is that the player who makes a 3-yard hole a 3-yard run nearly every time gets the start over the player who makes the 3-yard hole a 6-yard run half of the time and a 2-yard loss the other half. It's a bit hyperbolic to suggest those are the numbers Pead would give you, but I'm just trying to make a point:
Richardson doesn't create anything; everything has to be created for him.
I don't disagree with the coaching staff's decision. Certainly at this point, neither Pead or Stacy has "earned" the starting job over Richardson who featured as often as he did in actual regular season football last year.
But there's a reason Isaiah Pead was a second round pick. There's a reason Zac Stacy had back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons in the SEC. And there's a reason Daryl Richardson went to Abilene Christian after initally attending Cisco College in Cisco, TX which you've never heard of.
(Author's note: As a researched aside, I found this photo of Cisco College's gym which is exactly what Cisco College's gym should look like.)
When it works, it works well. Grinding out chunks of yards to set up easier 2nd and 3rd downs isn't a bad thing. And sure, every so often things open up well and you get these straight lanes to pick up dozens of yards like this 53-yard run against Washington or this 44-yarder against Miami which i can't embed because the NFL likes to be a jerk. Those runs are great. But they're there for anyone who runs directly at the lane which is what Daryl Richardson does because he wants to keep his job. He does not do a Gale Sayers, which now you have to watch this video because seriously, Gale Sayers was freakish (the reason RBs dance behind the line is exemplified by Sayers at around 2:32 against the Rams):
But that was then, and this is now.
Daryl Richardson is, expectedly I guess, the Rams starting running back proving once again the proven maxim that less really is more.
Unless it isn't.