The Atlanta Falcons will be expected to bounce back in 2019 after a rough season. There will be no contributor more important to the offense then Devonta Freeman.
For the Atlanta Falcons offensive success in 2019, no skills player may be more important then Devonta Freeman. Obviously, we are taking the quarterback out of the equation as it is the obvious and most important offensive position to focus on.
In this hypothetical scenario, the Falcon’s offense returns as currently constructed and healthy for the 2019 season. With this in mind, no player will be more important to the team’s gameplan and ability to score then Devonta Freeman.
Freeman was injured for most of the 2018 season appearing in only two games and failing to look like himself in either. The Falcons were forced to go with their second and third running back options and the Atlanta rushing attack was never much of an attack at all.
Running straight up the middle on a predictable one and two yard plays Atlanta rarely had a rushing attack to control the clock or help take pressure off of their quarterback. While the offensive line shares some culpability for this the biggest blame was in the play calling and the lack of a dynamic running back.
Freeman when healthy is a good running back who can help set up the Falcon’s elite passing game and catch passes out of the backfield. He has two 1,000+ yard seasons and was close to a third in 2017 with over 900 yards.
The concern for Freeman won’t be his skill. He has a good mix of speed and elusiveness, while still running with a physicality that allows him to run through would-be tacklers.
For Freeman, the concern at this point in his career is his ability to stay healthy. He missed the 2018 season aside from two very short appearances and has had injuries each of the last three years.
The most concerning of those injuries have been problems with concussions that have limited his ability to take hits. While the NFL is doing their best to limit dangerous hits, football is still sanctioned violence, with running backs often taking the most punishment.
There is a reason the position often has the shortest shelf life as well as there is a reason it has become one of the most sought after positions in the NFL Draft.
The running game and controlling the clock is taking over the NFL. If you don’t buy it just take a look at the remaining NFC contenders, the Eagles, Cowboys, Saints, and Rams. Three of those four teams are built around star running backs who can take over a game.
While we are not comparing Freeman to any of these impressive talents we are showing the current blueprint for NFL success, a balanced offense.
Freeman can offer the Falcons a legitimate runner who can help them balance out a pass-heavy offense in 2019. He will be key for the Falcons if they want to return to the playoffs in 2019. If he cannot stay healthy and offer a consistent running attack it will be another long season for Atlanta, one that again ends in December.