The Falcons are primed to have one of the most exciting offenses in football this season, but it won’t be a traditional offense for today’s NFL.
Atlanta plays a different brand of football under Arthur Smith, one that wants to run the ball down their opponents’ throats, with everything bleeding off it. The Falcons boasted one of the best rushing attacks across the 2022 season, and that was with defenses knowing what was coming, given Marcus Mariota wasn’t striking fear with his arm.
It’s not going to be Patrick Mahomes throwing the ball all over the yard, but it will be efficient and just as creative. And the driving force of the offense will be Bijan Robinson, who Gilberto Manzano of Sports Illustrated believes will be one of ten offensive players that will define the upcoming season.
NFL pundits wasted the first three months of the offseason discussing whether a team should draft Robinson in the first round only for the Falcons to take him No. 8 without hesitation. Expect Robinson to have a dynamic rookie season to make teams reconsider how they value running backs. This likely wouldn’t help veteran running backs get paid with their second contracts, but it might start a new trend of drafting running backs in the early rounds. If Robinson records 1,200-plus rushing yards with 10-plus touchdowns in 2023, his rookie contract of four years, $21 million will be a bargain for the Falcons.
Manzano having the odds-on favorite to take home the Rookie of the Year award among the 10 most impactful players isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but I’m not complaining.
Despite selecting two high-profile skill players in back-to-back drafts — Kyle Pitts and Drake London –, it will be Bijan Robinson who becomes the face of the franchise and one of the most popular players in the league.
When Ezekiel Elliott arrived in Dallas, he became the most popular player on America’s Team. Obviously, the Falcons will never be the Cowboys, but Robinson will have a similar effect around the city of Atlanta.
Photographer: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire