Jordan Richards has been an enigma in New England since being a second-round draft pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He was picked ahead of guard A.J. Cann, wide receiver Tyler Lockett, running backs Tevin Coleman Duke Johnson, and David Johnson, teammates guard Shaq Mason and edge rusher Trey Flowers, linebacker Kwon Alexander, nose tackle Grady Jarrett, wide receiver Stefon Diggs, and defensive end Danielle Hunter to name just a few.
As a rookie, Richards primarily played on special teams but did get on the field in the dime defense and played 238 defensive snaps. In 2016 he was on special teams–when active on game day–and played just 18 defensive snaps in 11 games. In 2017 he was back in his dime defense role for the most part and played 272 defensive snaps. He played a lot in week one (blowout loss to Kansas City) and down the stretch as players began being rested.
Richards played 22 snaps on defense against Tennessee with one tackle, playing as the third safety with Devin McCourty injuring his knee early and getting rested with the game out of reach. Against Jacksonville, he was back to his special teams and one specific package playing time and played just six snaps.
However, in the Super Bowl Richards was back as the safety/linebacker hybrid role with Patrick Chung moving from his regular role to that of slot cornerback. Richards was burned repeatedly as he allowed 81 yards on three catches on three targets. Running back Corey Clement made Richards look foolish burning him for a 55-yard reception on a wheel route.
He played only 16 snaps on defense, but Richards managed to give up three big passing plays in those limited snaps. Richards was one just one of the many players on defense who did not play well. Coaching deserves some blame for putting him on the field in a position not maximizing his ability, but Richards’ play was a large part of the problem in Super Bowl 52.