CLEVELAND - Apparently disgruntled Browns fans weren't the only people wondering why Trent Richardson didn't get more than 13 carries against the Miami Dolphins last Sunday.
Richardson also was perplexed, which is why he asked coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner about the lack of carries.
"I told coach, 'I know you have a game plan, and when we get behind it's hard to run the ball,' " Richardson said. "When they (the Dolphins) have a good quarterback and some good receivers, it's hard to fight back."
It looked as if Richardson was primed for a big day when he gained 26 yards on four carries on the opening possession. He had just 21 yards on nine additional carries the rest of the game.
It wasn't like the Browns were buried under a large deficit. They led 7-6 at halftime and were down by just three points, 13-10, entering the fourth quarter.
Turner decided that the best way to attack the Dolphins in the second half was through the air. That strategy backfired because of constant pressure by Miami's front seven and a poor performance by quarterback Brandon Weeden.
"What happens as you get into a game is you get caught up in trying to want to win the game," Turner said. "We had the game going the way I thought it would go and took a shot from about midfield. We actually had Travis (Benjamin) open deep and we had a protection problem and ended up taking a sack, and that took us out of that drive. From then on we didn't play with good rhythm."
Equally as surprising as the lack of carries by Richardson was the lack of his appearances on third downs. The Browns successfully converted only one of 14 third-down plays. Logic would seem to dictate that Chudzinski and Turner would want their supposed best offensive player on the field on third down.
"I was kind of surprised that I didn't play as much," Richardson said. "I knew there was a game going on and that I would play more. We have a good third-down back in 'Obby' (Chris Ogbonnaya), but it was kind of a shocker that I wasn't in as much as I thought I might be on third down."
Turner promised that Richardson will get more third-down opportunities.
"A lot of it is where we're at as a group," Turner said. "We want Trent on the field. There are some things he's ready to handle in the nickel package and there are some things Obby will handle for awhile. Trent missed some time in camp. There are some things we want to use with him in there, and we'll do it when we can."
The missing ingredient in Richardson's game since being drafted has been the big game. Last season he had three 100-yard rushing performances - 152 against Baltimore (this week's opponent), 146 against Cincinnati and 122 against San Diego - but for the most part he's been bottled up.
"We have to get better in all areas," Richardson said. "We have to make sure we do everything right. Our offensive line is getting better every day."
It needs to start showing up on Sunday afternoons real soon.