The rise and fall of the American quarterback is fascinating — unless you went to the University of Florida. For a school with so many NFL-caliber quarterbacks, who is the last one that didn’t flame out professionally? Don’t you dare bring up Tim Tebow or Rex Grossman. Both were alright for a little while, but neither is better than Kirk Cousins, alma maters aside. We’re really here to say whatever system Steve Spurrier brought to Gainesville and has tried to be mimicked by every coach since him hasn’t led to one Gator being great in the NFL, especially Urban Meyer’s former players. And that leads us to this week’s news of Anthony Richardson being shut down for the season because of a shoulder injury.
Richardson is the outlier from most of his predecessors from The Swamp. He wasn’t great in college. Only to balance the supply and demand of NFL quarterbacks vaulted him to No. 4 overall in this year’s NFL Draft. Name one amazing thing Richardson did outside of that 360 fakeout pass against Utah. I’ll keep waiting…
Richardson was always a college athlete who never truly tapped into his potential, yet showed it better as an Indianapolis Colt than as a Florida Gator, when his Gainesville forefathers had the opposite. Kyle Trask nearly won the Heisman Trophy three years ago and hasn’t done a thing in the NFL. The most successful former Gators quarterback after college of the last 30 years is probably Jesse Palmer, who is more famous for hosting a dating show than his NFL exploits these days.
And as a fan of the team in Washington, don’t even get me started on the Spurrier system. Did the “Head Ball Coach” play favorites? Was his style of coaching not suited for more mature NFL defenses? Were bringing most of this coaching staff from Florida and not retaining Marvin Lewis after one year big mistakes? Yes to all of the above. And he was working for Daniel Snyder to make things worse. That set the trend for how plenty of Gators have fared beyond the SEC. Yet, Richardson had the chance to be different based on his dual-threat ability. Unless you’re Joe Burrow or Josh Allen, the age of the mobile quarterback is here, and probably has been prevalent a lot longer than most have been able to spot. The age of the true pocket passer left the NFL with the last generation of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and others finding time to golf. Richardson better fit into the new NFL on paper better than either of the quarterbacks taken before him in the draft this season — Bryce Young and CJ Stroud.
The sample size is small for Richardson, but even with his limited passing expertise, the Colts didn’t get blown out. And how he functioned with Jonathan Taylor as a massive security blanket never came to fruition. In the weakest division in the NFL, finding a way to bolster the team’s record would’ve been a lower bar to clear than most think. Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay is still betting on Richardson, which is a good thing, even if this is a tough injury to come back from, especially with his franchise’s signal caller’s skill set.
Richardson’s trajectory as the trend-bucker isn’t completely toast with this injury. It just picks up several degrees of turbulence he’d otherwise be immune from. Being thrown into the fire and surviving, with rare exceptions, namely Geno Smith in recent memory, is how to sustain an NFL starting job. Richardson has to hope Gardner Minshew, one of the best backups in the league, doesn’t set the world on fire and give Irsay a decision. All Richardson had to do was stay healthy in a game where mobile quarterbacks are more susceptible to injury. He’ll adapt or end up like his Gator brethren.
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