Ever since former running back Michael Turner and Atlanta cut ties years ago, the team has never been able to upgrade at the position. In order to have an effective offense, the running back position is key. With a solid run offense, opposing defenses will have to respect the running game. The Falcons drafted Devonta Freeman in 2014 in the fourth-round and drafted Tevin Coleman in 2015 in the third-round. Atlanta obviously is starting to press that need, and have two young backs that have long futures ahead of them. Both halfbacks did great for their respective teams in college, and Freeman showed potential in his rookie season. Tevin Coleman comes in to complement Freeman in the backfield in 2015, and these two backs show a lot of promise.
Look, this article is all a predication based on the potential of the Atlanta backs. Not only will Coleman and Freeman see touches, but Antone Smith will also. Smith is one of the most explosive players in the NFL, and showed it last year with his touchdown runs. These backs will have to depend on a questionable offensive line, though Kyle Shanahan seems to have a vision to help this offense. As Falcon fans have heard countless times, Shanahan brings the same scheme his father coached, the Zone Blocking Scheme. The ZBS can be difficult to learn, but luckily the offensive linemen have over three months to learn. Without an effective offensive line, the running backs will have to fend for themselves.
My gut feeling tells me that these three backs will aid quarterback, Matt Ryan, in the run game and take the weight off Ryan’s shoulders. In the past couple of years, opposing defenses have game-planned around Atlanta’s passing game rather than the running game because the run was simply ineffective. Coleman and Freeman have different running styles, and defenses will have their hands full facing these two. Coleman stands at 5-11 and weighs in at 206 pounds, so the Falcons have a big player in the backfield. Freeman weighs the same, but he stands at 5-8. Both of these men have excellent running games as they have top notch vision, have patience, and can occasionally have long runs.
I felt as if Atlanta had to take a running back in this year’s draft. Freeman is a polished back, but he needs to have help with him. Coleman and Freeman can make an interesting duo, with Smith being the explosive back that can take it the distance when the ball touches his hands. Matt Ryan is an excellent quarterback, but his game can get better if he has guys who can run the ball. If the halfbacks can be effective, opposing defenses will have to respect Atlanta’s run game. That leads to the play-action passes where Ryan can hit his receivers over the top. The reason I see these backs splitting carries is one has to wonder if Coleman is mentally capable of handling the workload of a professional offense. I see Coleman and Freeman inching close to the 1000 yard mark this season, but not quite reaching it. It will be interesting to see how Quinn and Shanahan will split the carries between the halfbacks, but it is a great situation to have.