Falcons 2021 Breakout Canidates: Mike Davis

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Falcons’ running back coach Desmond Kitchings has already stated that the position will be competitive. It’s clear Atlanta needed bodies at running back, and many thought that even though Davis signed a two-year deal, Terry Fontenot would bring in another back to compete with him. Cordarrelle Patterson is going to be a de facto RB2, but he’s yet to prove he can handle even close to a full-time load, and Qadree Ollison has even less experience as a professional running back than Patterson.

The trio of Todd Gurley, Ito Smith, and Brian Hill combined for 28.3 touches per game in 2020, which means Davis is likely the primary beneficiary of a majority of those touches. It’s difficult to predict how many more carries the Falcons running backs will receive given the run-heavy offense Arthur Smith wielded in Tennessee, but that can’t be said without mentioning one of the best running backs in the league in Derrick Henry. Over the past two seasons, The King has combined for 718 touches, compared to 189 from the other backs — a running back share of 66% from just last season.

The Falcons are going to run the ball more often and more effectively. Given Davis is likely to assume the starting role, it puts him in line for a breakout year. I fully expect him to record career highs in every major rushing statistic. He started 12 games for Carolina last year, rushing 165 times for 642 yards and six touchdowns. His only career-high not from the 2020 season was his yards per attempt, which was 4.6 in 2018 and 3.9 a season ago.

Davis isn’t Herny, but he’s no slouch himself in the realm of power backs. Henry’s 2.8 rushing yards after contact per rush is impressive, but Davis is right behind him with 2.4 rushing yards after contact per rush — both of these men fall forward a lot. Henry’s 11.1 rush attempts per broken tackle is out of this world, but again, Davis’s 7.9 rush attempts per broken tackle is a close second.

The opportunity is ripe for Davis to become a true bell-cow, workhorse running back, but it’s yet to be determined whether he’ll seize it. It isn’t easy to envision anyone outside of him leading this stable of running backs unless, of course, the Falcons acquire another back through a trade involving Julio Jones.

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