FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Stats aren’t Sheldon Richardson’s priority.
The Jets defensive end made it clear on Thursday that he’s far more concerned with doing his job, which currently entails playing multiple positions and doing the “trash work” when needed.
His 2016 stat line — 1.5 sacks, 44 tackles and no forced fumbles — isn’t as impressive as his past production (eight sacks in 2014). But Richardson believes he’s pulling his weight on the field.
“Yeah [I’ve done my job],” the 2013 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year said. “I don’t care about stats, that’s for ya’ll to write about and glorify people about. I’m asked to play linebacker, asked to do a lot of stuff on this team. Some of it is the trash work. I don’t get a lot of stats. It is what it is.”
Stats may not matter to him personally, but they’re often used to weigh the long-term value of players seeking new deals. And the 26-year-old Richardson, who’s due to become a free agent in 2018, has made it known he wants a big-money contract. So, will the Jets reward him for the “trash work” he’s doing now? Or will the front office focus on his lack of stats?
Said Richardson: “No comment.”
The 2013 first-round pick didn’t have much of an explanation about his limited minutes Monday night against the Colts either. After playing almost every defensive snap in the first half of their 41-10 loss, Richardson was on the field for only six snaps in the second half. “I barely played,” he said, matter-of-factly. “It’s not my call. When my number’s called, I’m out there. Simple as that.”
Richardson said he understood going into the game that there were “a couple” of packages he wouldn’t be involved in, “but I didn’t think I was not going to play the whole second half.
“But that’s what happens,” he said, though he added that it’s “never” happened before in his career. “I don’t have a feeling about it, bro. They design stuff for guys in certain situations and you’re either in it or you’re not.”
Coach Todd Bowles and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers reiterated that Richardson’s decreased playing time was based on the game plan. Still, it’s curious that the coaching staff would devise packages where Richardson, one of their most versatile and talented players, would be kept off the field for almost an entire half. “There was no major reason,” Rodgers said. “We’d like to have them all out there every play, but they get winded, they get tired, they can’t play every play. He’s definitely one of our better players and he’s out there a lot more than he’s not.”
Richardson didn’t show up on the stat sheet against the Colts, but he was fined for a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on quarterback Andrew Luck in the first quarter. The lineman said he “kind of” expected to be fined, “but it wasn’t intentional. I braced myself not to hit him with my shoulder and then he — kind of Oscar Award winner right there — sold it a little bit.” He said he plans to appeal the fine to the league.
Asked if he was surprised by his lack of involvement on defense, Richardson said, “No comment.” And when asked if it “makes sense” that he wouldn’t be on the field, he offered the same response.