For most of the last four years, the Atlanta Falcons have had one of the most potent running back tandems in the NFL in Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. In 2019, they will have to start all over.
When Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman and former Falcon Tevin Coleman were healthy and playing, they were the best duo in the league. In addition to their different running styles, they each had superior receiving abilities. During the weeks where one of the two was not in the lineup, the other half was expected to shoulder the load and usually did so successfully.
With Coleman headed to San Francisco to reunite with former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, that leaves Freeman to take back number one running back duties as opposed to a 1A type role he’s been accustomed to as of late. The good news is the Falcons roster is stacked with several young running backs that all add something different to the run game.
It would be a tall task for Freeman to try and rejuvenate a stagnant Falcons running game on his own, the good news is he will not have to. The two-time Pro Bowl running back is coming off successful groin surgery after suffering the injury early on in the season.
The early indications are trending up for for Devonta Freeman in 2019. Bringing Dirk Koetter back as the play caller is a great first step; he was the play caller during Freeman’s first year in the league. In the NFL, familiarity is typically a good thing and Koetter should know by now how to effectively use Freeman in the passing game.
The Falcons have revamped their offensive line this year, bringing in Jamon Brown and James Carpenter via free agency, and using their first round picks to draft offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary.
It’s clear the team believes in him and has surrounded him with everything a running back needs to succeed. The only question that stands to be answered is: Can Devonta stay healthy for an entire season? At 27, Freeman still has a few more very good years left, assuming he can stay upright. Injuries have been an issue for Devonta over the last few years but he has still produced admirably when on the field.
Expect a bounce back year for Devonta given these circumstances. With arguably the best supporting cast he’s had since coming into the league and little threat behind him for touches in Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison (though they still figure into the equation with a small workload), he is primed to produce.