Tevin Coleman has been a pleasant surprise for the Falcons through the first two weeks. Can he keep it up and outplay Devonta Freeman against the Saints?
It’s Saints week. Which means this upcoming game for the Atlanta Falcons will be a little more important than others this season. Not only for bragging rights in this heated rivalry, but for the opportunity to win a huge divisional game and develop a winning streak for the first time since early last season.
A main factor to the Falcons recent offensive success has been the play of running back Tevin Coleman. He burst onto the scene with an impressive 5-catch 95-yard performance in Week 1 and followed that up with 71 total yards and a touchdown last week in Oakland. Not insane numbers, but he has been very effective splitting carries with Devonta Freeman and catching passes out of the backfield. In order for the Falcons to win again on Monday night, Coleman will have to maintain his solid play.
But this brings up an interesting question. Will he out perform Devonta Freeman on Monday? And if he does, will he continue to do so for the remainder of the season?
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While Coleman has indeed had success so far this season, it’s not like Freeman hasn’t. Devonta still leads the team in rushing yards with 113 on 28 carries. The two have split carries relatively evenly and neither one has stood out from the other despite Freeman’s edge in rushing yards. An area that does seem to favor Coleman, however, is in the passing game. Last year, Freeman was second on the team in catches with 73 while Coleman had only 2. That’s not the case so far this season. Coleman is third on the team in receiving yards (120 on 7 catches) while Freeman has only caught four balls for 20 yards.
The Saints have a very porous defense, currently ranking 30th out of 32 teams in terms of total defense. It wouldn’t be hard to envision both running backs playing well on Monday. But in regards to the question I proposed earlier, I believe Devonta will have the better game against the Saints, and the jury is still out on the rest of the year. He played well in his two games against New Orleans a season ago. His totals in those games were 181 yards rushing on 37 carries, 10 catches for 74 yards and three total touchdowns.
That said, I believe Coleman has found his niche in this offense. He has shown he can be a key cog in the passing game and is always a threat to break a long run due to his blazing speed. Not to say he won’t build on his early season success against the Saints, I just think we should pump the breaks a tad on his hype. Freeman has played in the Superdome twice already and knows what to expect out of the Saints defense. So I expect to see him get the bulk of the split carries once again and have the better game. As for the remainder of the year, if Coleman can continue to progress, he will be an important member of this team going forward.