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Colts’ Anthony Richardson Displays Improved Confidence, Poise In Preseason Finale Against Eagles

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Anthony Richardson’s unfathomable potential was on display for 33 snaps Thursday night, whether it was with his powerful right arm or quick feet.

Although the anticipated outcomes weren’t always the case, the starting quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts finished the preseason against the Philadelphia Eagles with a performance that boded well for his debut season.

In his second preseason game, Richardson played the whole first half, inspiring the Colts to three touchdown drives in five series, giving them a 17-13 lead at the break. He added 38 yards on five carries and completed 6 of 17 throws for 78 yards total. Despite the fact that his throwing statistics were far from impressive, they did not adequately convey the offense’s improved precision and control.

“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.”

After the Colts’ first touchdown drive, Richardson flailed his arms in the air while yelling, “Fly, Eagles, fly,” much to the dismay of the Lincoln Financial Field supporters. It was a noteworthy event that went viral on social media, but his performance over the course of the first two quarters was just a glimpse of his enormous potential.

“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 chosen the Colts’ starting quarterback on August 15, battled miserably on his team’s opening drive, but when the No. 4 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft began utilizing a hurry-up system in the following series, he appeared at ease.

On his second drive, which resulted in a Deon Jackson 3-yard touchdown run, he was 2 for 2 for 36 yards. Following a 16-yard run to start the third series, Richardson was 2 for 3 for 19 yards. A 10-play, 75-yard march was completed with a 1-yard touchdown by Evan Hull.

Unsurprisingly, Richardson occasionally misfired despite flexing his arm’s strength. However, his scurrying was extraordinary in nature.

The 250-pounder has demonstrated his ability to run through potential tacklers like a bull, but his evasiveness and nimbleness stood out on 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.”

Richardson has all the makings of a one-man roller coaster, with a variety of thrills and horrors certain to lie ahead, much as Josh Allen was in his first couple of seasons with the Buffalo Bills.

Richardson at the very least seems to ensure a more exciting type of football, a year after the Colts played in a string of games that were difficult to watch.

The high points will eventually appear, but consistency is still being worked on. Of course, that isn’t a particularly original analysis of Richardson.

He appeared at ease and confident in his final dress rehearsal, demonstrating how his poise and presence in the pocket had evolved from his first preseason game to the last.

The real deal will follow when Richardson makes his first NFL start against the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars on September 10.

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