Whether it was with his strong right arm or fleet feet, Anthony Richardson's otherworldly potential was on display for 33 snaps on Thursday night.
The desired results didn't always follow, but the Indianapolis Colts' starting quarterback wrapped up the preseason against the Philadelphia Eagles with an overall positive showing heading into his rookie year.
Richardson's second preseason outing saw him play through the first half, leading the Colts on three scoring drives in five series for a 17-13 halftime lead. He completed 6 of 17 passes for 78 yards and added 38 yards on five carries. Though his passing stats were far from sterling, they didn't tell the story of the improved poise and control of the offense presented.
"Shoot, I thought he did a solid job. We scored three out of the first four drives, which is good," head coach Shane Steichen said after Indy's 27-13 win, via team transcripts. "The two-minute drive wasn't what we wanted, but we'll go back, look at the tape. I thought he did some really good things and some things we've got to clean up as well."
Richardson's confidence was perhaps most evident after the Colts' first scoring drive, when he flapped his arms in a "Fly, Eagles, fly," motion, much to the dismay of the Lincoln Financial Field faithful. It was a moment that garnered notice and stirred social media, but his overall showing in two quarters was a snapshot of the overwhelming potential that made him such an enticing prospect.
"Sometimes when you get into the end zone, you just freeze up and don't know what to do. So I was contemplating what I was going to do if I scored or if somebody else scored. So I ran down there and I was just flapping my arms and having fun," Richardson said after the game. "I hope nobody took it the wrong way. I was just balling, having fun out there, and enjoying it."
Richardson, who was named the team's QB1 on Aug. 15, and the Colts struggled woefully on their first drive, but when the 2023 NFL Draft's No. 4 pick started working in a hurry-up offense in the second series, he looked at home. He was 2 of 2 for 36 yards on his second drive, which culminated with a Deon Jackson 3-yard touchdown run. On the third series, Richardson was 2 of 3 for 19 yards after kickstarting the march with a 16-yard run. An Evan Hull 1-yard TD concluded a 10-play, 75-yard march.
Unsurprisingly, Richardson was inaccurate at times while flexing the might of his arm. His scrambling was of the sensational variety, though.
The 250-pounder has shown he can run like a bull through would-be tacklers, but his escapability and nimbleness jumped out Thursday.
"Yeah, that's one of his talents. To create those big plays outside the pocket," Steichen said. "The scramble plays when guys are coming three-on-blitzes, obviously we've got to look at those and get those things picked up better. But just his ability to create outside the pocket is definitely going to help us."
Much as Josh Allen was in his first couple of seasons with the Buffalo Bills, Richardson has all the makings of a one-man roller coaster, with a plethora of thrills and scares sure to lie ahead.
A year after the Colts took part in a long line of tough-to-watch games, Richardson at the very least seems to guarantee a more entertaining brand of football.
The highlights will come, but the consistency is a work in progress. That's not any kind of novel analysis when it comes to Richardson, of course.
His poise and presence in the pocket have clearly improved from his first preseason game to his last, as he looked comfortable and confident in his final dress rehearsal.
Next up is the real thing, when Richardson takes the field for his first official NFL start on Sept. 10 against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars.
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