WESTFIELD – The future is now for the Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback of the future.
Welcome, Anthony Richardson.
“I made the decision Anthony will be the starting quarterback this year for us,’’ Shane Steichen said Tuesday at Grand Park Sports Campus.
The decision was made after evaluating Richardson’s undeniable progress since being selected with the No. 4 overall pick in the April draft. The offseason program, OTAs, a pair of minicamps, three weeks of training camp and last Saturday’s preseason opener at Buffalo.
And then there’s this.
“Excited about his future and his play-making ability,’’ Steichen said.
Richardson was summoned to Steichen’s office Monday evening. The face-to-face lasted roughly two hours, but the franchise-shaping decision was delivered in the first few minutes.
The initial reaction: Shock.
“It was just hearing the words,’’ Richardson said. “You work for it. I didn’t know when the timeline was going to be. I was just looking forward to week 1 and just being ready for the opportunity and being thrown into the fire hopefully.
“He told me and I’m just like, ‘Wow, it really happened.’ I’m thankful. I’m blessed. I’ve been grinding, putting in the work just to get the title, but just not really about the title. I’m just making sure I’m ready for the team, this fight being labeled as QB1.
“I feel like I’m ready, but who’s to say if I’m ready or not?’’
The Colts are eager and willing to find out, and the first indication comes Sept. 10 against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Gardner Minshew II was “disappointed and hurt’’ when was informed of Steichen’s decision, but down deep had to know it was coming.
“Super excited for Anthony and the opportunity he has,’’ Minshew said. “This is his franchise. That’s the reason they picked him where he is.
“Man, he’s going to be really special.’’
Richardson being named the starter for the opener against the Jaguars had been expected, and extends a dubious franchise streak. He’ll be the Colts’ seventh different opening-day starter in as many seasons, following Scott Tolzien (2017), Andrew Luck (’18), Jacoby Brissett (’19), Philip Rivers (’20), Carson Wentz (’21) and Matt Ryan (’22).
More important, he’s the latest quarterback expected to lead the franchise out of the wilderness. Remember Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck, both No. 1 overall selections?
Richardson insisted he’s chasing “greatness.’’
“I talked about it before,’’ he said. “I want to be great. I want to be remembered. I don’t want to be one of those guys, ‘OK, he was in the league.’
“I want my legacy to be forever. I’m working. I just try to work and build a championship here for this team and this organization.’’
He was asked about following in the footsteps and dealing with the expectations that accompanied Manning and Luck.
“Not yet because I haven’t done anything yet,’’ he said. “Those guys, they’ve done a lot for the people here. I’m just getting started.
“I’m just trying to continue to work for it so when the time does come and the moment does come, the people ask about me and my career here, hopefully it’s all good things.’’
The decision-makers within the organization – owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard, Steichen – have been committed to getting Richardson as many reps as possible. That’s the only way a player grows, and the only way a rookie quarterback can be prepared for whatever’s to come.
Now, Richardson will take every rep with the first-unit offense. That allows him to tighten the chemistry and strengthen his relationships with the veterans.
Making the decision in mid-August also gives Steichen the opportunity to better tailor the offense around his ultra-talented rookie.
“Yeah, absolutely,’’ Steichen said. “It definitely helps. It gives me a chance to get with those 1s going forward and we go from there.’’
Might going with a rookie rather than Gardner Minshew II at the outset result in early struggles for the rookie and the team?
“We’re going to go,’’ Steichen said. “Shoot, you never know how these seasons are going to play out.
“You never know, so we go with it and we roll from there.’’
The Colts clearly were enamored with Richardson’s unique skills as they went through their pre-draft evaluations. But they also noticed a maturity level that should serve him well as his career unfolds.
Steichen pointed to the poise Richardson displayed in the preseason opener against the Bills. Even though he suffered an interception on his third pass attempt, he responded with a pair of significant drives.
“Is there going to be ups and downs through the season? Absolutely,’’ Steichen said. “For a rookie, it’s a long season. It’s a 17-week grind.
“We fight through those together.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.