Oct 26, 2014; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) drives past Detroit Lions outside linebacker Tahir Whitehead (59) during the second half of the game between the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports
RB2 — Devonta Freeman
The move to a zone blocking scheme will help second-year running back Devonta Freeman, who didn’t have the rookie campaign he might have hoped for.
Dec 21, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) carries the ball as New Orleans Saints strong safety Kenny Vaccaro (32) and inside linebacker David Hawthorne (57) defend during the second quater at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Freeman only played on 22 percent of offensive snaps, per Football Outsiders, behind Jacquizz Rodgers (32 percent) and Steven Jackson (39 percent). Rodgers and Jackson have since left Atlanta, which will give the Florida State star more opportunities.
He carried the football 65 times last year for 248 yards and one touchdown. He also caught 30 passes for 225 yards and a score.
I expect Coleman to lead the line, but Freeman will be a solid complimentary piece to the puzzle. To succeed on the ground throughout the season, you need more than one back. This is certainly the case with Coleman; he’s a violent runner who could hit the rookie wall early in the season if he is overused.
Freeman believes he can be the lead back in Atlanta, and it will be his mission to sit atop the depth chart ahead of Coleman:
“I’ve got high expectations of myself,” Freeman said. “I look at myself in the mirror every single day and I know what I can do. I know what I am. I know what I’m capable of doing. All I need is an opportunity.
My expectation is that Coleman will win the battle, but Freeman will compliment him well in the new scheme.
We possibly got a glimpse into the future in Week 16 last season, as Freeman scored this touchdown on the road to the New Orleans Saints (skip to 1:40):