Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson has seen a quarterback like Anthony Richardson before. This quarterback, a former NFL MVP, was a dominant force on the ground and through the air at his peak, and the comparison perhaps sets a new bar for Richardson to aim for as the Colts and Jaguars prepare for their Week 1 meeting on Sunday.
Expectations around the 6’4”, 245-pound Richardson are already high — why not throw a Cam Newton comp into the mix?
“I mean, it’s tough (to gameplan for Richardson). You think of him, you think of Cam Newton — these are big, physical, strong quarterbacks that can also throw the football. And they’re athletic,” Pederson told reporters on Wednesday.
So much for tempering the hype.
Lawrence vs. Richardson
The season-opening contest at Lucas Oil Stadium will see two former top-five picks — Richardson and Trevor Lawrence — match wits for the first time. They might be two very different signal-callers, but both franchises hope this will be the first of many AFC South tussles in the years to come.
Lawrence led Jacksonville to the playoffs last year as division champs, and the Jaguars completed an historic rally over the Los Angeles Chargers before suffering a narrow loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round.
Pederson will want to see another step forward from the former #1 overall pick as fall turns into winter and postseason football — but for Week 1, he’s preaching patience against the Colts‘ Richardson-led attack.
“We’ve got to stay disciplined, obviously, defensively,” he said. “We’ve got to be a good tackle football team against guys like this.”
Putting in the work
Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, Richardson — one of the Colts‘ seven team captains this season — took advantage of a scheduled players’ day off to…come into the building and prepare himself further for Sunday.
Colts head coach Shane Steichen told reporters that Richardson spent several hours in the team facility on Tuesday, showcasing the kind of commitment and work ethic expected of a much more seasoned quarterback.
As hard as Jacksonville is working to slow down Richardson in his NFL debut on Sunday, the Colts’ new face of the franchise seems determined to work even harder. It should set the stage for a memorable opening game — and perhaps an overture for the years of AFC South showdowns ahead.