We continue our “Falcons 50” countdown with a look at the Atlanta Falcons’ top five offensive weapons. Falcons football is just 43 days away. You can follow along with the full countdown here.
To recap the countdown of the five biggest offensive weapons for the Atlanta Falcons, the offensive line came in at number five because of their important role for the passing game as well as opening holes in the run game. At number four, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu was my selection as his offseason signing places him clearly as the No. 2 receiver next to the dynamic Julio Jones.
For the number three selection, I decided to pick someone who had Pro Bowl season in 2015. A young asset on the team that is pretty much a pillar of the offense. The number three offensive weapon for the Atlanta Falcons is running back Devonta Freeman.
Atlanta Falcons top offensive weapon No. 3: Devonta Freeman
The dynamic running back got his first start in week three against the Dallas Cowboys and didn’t look back. Running for 141 yards and three scores, Freeman used that opportunity to introduce himself after the original starter, Tevin Coleman, was injured in the matchup against the New York Giants the previous week.
The 2014 fourth rounder has battled the criticism for pretty much his entire playing career. Freeman was told that he was too small in high school, told that he was to slow in college, and many didn’t really give him much of a chance when drafted as a professional. Yet, the former Florida State Seminole continued to do what he does best and that’s overcoming those odds.
Freeman recorded four 100-yard rushing games within the first seven weeks of the season as well as back-to-back games of three rushing touchdowns in week three and four against the Cowboys and the Houston Texans respectively. To show off his versatility, Freeman totaled five games of at least seven receptions as he equaled 73 catches on the season. In total, he ran for 1,056 yards and 11 touchdowns plus his 578 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
What was also notable during the season was that Freeman did hit a snag. In his last seven games, Freeman’s highest rushing total was only 76 yards. Some of that can be chalked up to the inconsistent play-calling while some of that can also be the result of Freeman getting fatigued later on in the year.
Freeman is the starter coming into 2016 but expect for the offense to mix in Coleman at times to properly spell Freeman. You can also expect for Freeman to be more involved in the passing game. Running backs coach Bobby Turner has been noted to express his desires to give Freeman less carries this season.
Even with that being the case, Freeman is absolutely necessary for the offense. At 5-foot-8, 206 pounds, Freeman only scratched the surface in 2015 and could be kicking the door in during the 2016 season.