Diagnosing Devonta Freeman's lack of production for Atlanta Falcons

BY Fansided and Matt Karoly/FanSided via Blogging Dirty • December 14, 2016

With an improved Atlanta Falcons offensive line, how is it possible Devonta Freeman has performed worse than he did in 2015?

The Los Angeles Rams stuffed Devonta Freeman all six times he carried the ball last week, holding Atlanta’s featured back to six yards. Sadly, last Sunday was not the first time Freeman has been slowed down this year. The Atlanta running game has actually been fairly pedestrian all season and the 16th overall ranking speaks to that.

Most of the problem revolves around the time share that has unfolded in the Falcons’ backfield in 2016. Of all offensive positions, quarterback and running back require the most repetition to develop a rhythm. With Freeman forced to surrender 40-50% of the workload to the emerging Coleman, a drop in production was inevitable.

Devonta Freeman has eclipsed 60 yards in only four games compared to the eight times he did so in 2015. To make matters worse, only one such game occurred during Tevin Coleman’s three game absence.

Coleman may be a difference maker, but he should not be the “1B” to Devonta’s “1A” on the depth chart. Instead, the Falcons must allow Freeman to carry the load and only spell him when he needs a breather.

Based on his vision and elusiveness, Devonta Freeman is the superior ball carrier. Tevin Coleman’s best trait, his speed, would be best utilized in short doses or obvious passing situations. Heck, you could use them on the field at the same time.

Dec 11, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) hands off to Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (24) in the first quarter of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

With Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu likely out another week, such a strategy might be in Atlanta’s best interest.

Last week delivered a “get right game” for the Atlanta Falcons team as a whole. This week presents a similar opportunity for one particular aspect of Atlanta’s arsenal — the run game.

The Falcons’ week 15 opponent enters Sunday’s clash with the league’s worst run defense. In fact, the 49ers are on pace to allow the 4th-most yards, 8th-most points, and 22nd-most rushing yards in NFL history.

Needless to say, Sunday should be a fun time for the entire Atlanta offense. But most importantly, this week’s matchup will be just what the doctor ordered for the sputtering Falcons’ rushing attack.

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