Today's biggest news on the NFL front is that Atlanta has committed to running back Devonta Freeman. The Falcons' top running back was one of the reasons Atlanta won the NFC last season. Committing to Freeman is a big deal. Before getting into why, I eat some crow.
Crow Eating Time
I must eat crow first. My thinking was that new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian would favor RB Tevin Coleman over Freeman. Why did I think this? I thought this because from the outset it appeared as if Sarkisian wanted to utilize Coleman more than he had been utilized before. Sark seemed to prefer scat-back types that could catch the football out of the backfield and take it to the house.
I think I was wrong. Dan Quinn's preferred method of running the offense, having a banger type RB that can also catch the football, has won out. Quinn watched Beast Mode demolish opponents while serving as Seattle's defensive coordinator.
Do I believe that's a good thing? I think it's a great thing. It's a great thing for everyone involved, including the seemingly odd man out in Tevin Coleman. Coleman, who will be a free agent after the 2018 season, can now consider his next move as a pro. Coleman could eventually become an RB1 via trade. That's how talented he is.
By rewarding Freeman with a 5-year, $41.25 million contract with $22 million guaranteed, Atlanta has said that they're committing to the running back from the Miami projects. As Vaughn McClure notes in his article on ESPN about the deal, Freeman is making more on a year to year basis than any other RB in the NFL. Yes, Le'Veon Bell is making $12 million this season. But, that's under the one-year franchise tag.
What Does This Mean for the Atlanta Falcons?
For the Atlanta Falcons, resigning Devonta Freeman could mean the Falcons are poised for a second straight trip to the Super Bowl. Sounds crazy? I don't think so. Coleman can serve as lightning while Freeman thunders on defenses.
More importantly, rushing the football more should open things up for the reigning NFL MVP, Matt Ryan. Ryan was terrific last season. He might need to be better this season due to Atlanta's much tougher schedule. Taking as much pressure off the MVP as possible sounds like a good plan.
I also feel that resigning Freeman should tremendously help Sark. Steve Sarkisian was Oakland's quarterbacks coach in 2004. Save for that, he's never coached at the NFL level. Not only is a rushing attack a quarterback's best friend. It can also be an offensive coordinator's best friend.
Sarkisian's play-calling can be as creative as any offensive coordinator I've seen. Sometimes, though, creativity can stand in the way of production. When that happens to Sark, he can always lean on the running game.
Resigning Devonta Freeman makes all the sense in the world for the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons play in one of the most difficult divisions in the NFL, the NFC South. With Freeman in the fold for the next 5 years, Atlanta fans can now breathe a sigh of relief.