Colts Still No Texans

Indianapolis fail: Trent Richardson can't prop up overrated Andrew Luck — no passing the Texans

Indianapolis fail: Trent Richardson can't save overrated Andrew Luck

Trent Richardson
Trent Richardson is the talk of the NFL, but he doesn't make the Indianapolis Colts the AFC South favorites. Browns Central
Andrew Luck Texans
Andrew Luck is a legend before his time. Just ask Cam Newton how that goes. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Keshawn Martin stiff arm
Keshawn Martin gives the Houston Texans a chance at a third legit wide receiver weapon. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
DeAndre Hopkins Texans Titans
Rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins isn't going anywhere. Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
Trent Richardson
Andrew Luck Texans
Keshawn Martin stiff arm
DeAndre Hopkins Texans Titans

BALTIMORE – Trent Richardson is the talk of the AFC, no matter what city you happen to be in. My rental car agent wore a Ray Lewis Ravens jersey, but when she found out I was a sportswriter the first question centered on the new Indianapolis Colt rather than Lewis' sure-to-be-beyond emotional (and dance filled) halftime Ring of Honor ceremony here Sunday.

And why not?

The Colts’ trade for the running back who Mike Holmgren thought could save Cleveland could not have been bolder.

Or more attention grabbing.

 Ask Cam Newton just how much Andrew Luck proved throwing for all those yards as a rookie. 

It hovers over the Houston Texans even as they prepare to face the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens in what’s shaping up as Ed Reed’s emotional return game and Texans debut all wrapped up in one. The Colts think they’ve made themselves much more of a threat to wrest back the AFC South crown that they treated like a birthright in the Peyton Manning era.

But all those horseshoe devotees — the same fair-weather ones who abandoned Manning to fall all over Andrew Luck — are forgetting one important pressing truth.

Their second-year starting quarterback is still hugely overrated. Andrew Luck is about as ready to lead the Colts to a division title as Josh Freeman is to power a Bucs’ resurgence.

That’s the real reason this nearly unprecedented early season NFL trade is so risky. Forget the whole debate over the true value of running backs and how even franchise running backs have been found much later than the first round. That’s not the real problem with Indy’s thinking.

The Colts made a win now move when they’re not ready to win big now. Not with Luck.

Ask Cam Newton just how much Andrew Luck proved throwing for all those yards as a rookie. Luck is a good kid with a great Houston background. He even respects the power of soccer.

But this idea that he’s the next coming of Peyton Manning — a belief even put into print in Sports Illustrated’s NFL preview issue — is almost as premature as declaring that Miley Cyrus will grow into the next Meryl Streep would be. Luck hasn’t come close to proving his franchise quarterback bona fides.

What about all those close games he pulled out in the “clutch” last season you ask?

That 9-1 record in one-score games screams out as a statistical aberration, one that already started to correct itself in that Week 2 loss to the Miami Dolphins. As one national publication put it, “That’s more lucky than Luck.”

He had 19 minutes to erase a four-point deficit to the Dolphins at home and couldn't do it, throwing a costly interception and getting sacked on fourth down in the process.

Trent Richardson’s Burden

Trent Richardson will be good for the Colts. He’ll run hard, find holes and show his talent. He’ll be great for those fantasy football players that Ravens running back Ray Rice despises.

But it all won’t be enough to make up for Luck’s natural regression.

The Colts will need some good fortune to secure a .500 season. That’s where their overall talent level settles.

 It’s easy to forget that Martin played quarterback all through high school. It’s easy to dismiss how much he could still grow. 

Meanwhile the Texans take a much stronger, deeper team into Baltimore than the one that destroyed the Ravens in the regular season last year. Rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins is already playing like an emerging star, giving Matt Schaub the type of second target he’s never truly had before.

Second-year receiver Keshawn Martin is also showing more, having hauled in a huge 32-yard-pass that could have ended the comeback against Tennesee in regulation last Sunday. The play came with Martin running a crisp route out of the slot position, giving the Texans hope of a middle of the field threat that's not a tight end.

It’s easy to forget that Martin played quarterback all through high school. It’s easy to dismiss how much he could still grow.

“I always thought of myself as a quarterback growing up, so I didn’t even really look at (pro) wide receivers,” Martin tells CultureMap in a quiet moment after a recent practice. “But now I look at guys like Percy Harvin as a model. I really like his game. And I want to do more for my team.”

Martin isn’t nearly as fast as Harvin, but he’s looking at the right position.

The Colts made the big splash by grabbing Richardson for a first round pick. But they’re out with Luck. The Texans are developing their own weapons from within.

The better path is clear. This division isn't shifting back anytime soon.