Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman had a breakout season last year, rushing for over 1,000 yards and scoring 14 combined touchdowns, which earned him his first trip to the Pro Bowl. Despite the success Freeman had last year, the Falcons missed the playoffs after suffering a mid-season slide. With the Freeman establishing himself as a legitimate backfield threat, the Falcons will have favorable online NFL odds of making the playoffs next season.
Even though he earned his first Pro Bowl trip in his second year in the league, Freeman is not taking anything for granted, and is going to report to the team’s mandatory, three-day mini-camp, which begins on Tuesday.
Freeman, who began last season as the Falcon’s second string running back, became the starter when Tevin Coleman suffered a rib injury in week 2. Once Freeman got a chance to show what he could do, he took full advantage of the opportunity, and solidified himself as the team’s starting running back.
While Freeman is going into next season as the starter, he said there are still a few things he could do better, and has been working on those things during the offseason.
Freeman also isn’t expecting this season to be the same as last season. He knows that opposing teams have had enough time to go over his game tapes and figure out how to stop him. Freeman understands that nothing in the NFL is guaranteed, even his job as the team’s starting running back.
Freeman said he put in a lot of work in the offseason, and he feels confident in his understanding of the team’s offensive scheme, but he still feels he has a long way to go before he can start feeling comfortable about his status on the team and in the league.
Last season, the Falcons started the season 6-1, and a lot of their fans and NFL experts predicted they would be one of the top contenders in the NFC. However, things didn’t turn out so well for the Falcons who stumbled in the middle of the season and finished the season 8-8.
The bright spot to their disappointing season was the fact that they were the only team to defeat the Carolina Panthers during the regular season last year.
Freeman should have plenty of opportunities to improve his stats from last year because offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, runs a zone-blocking scheme that thrives on a lot of play-action passes and stretch runs.
However, the Falcons had trouble scoring in the red zone last year, which cost them a few games, and Freeman will have to figure out how to punch the ball in from the red zone, or the Falcons will have to find a running back they can use in those situations.
With the Falcons getting a healthy Coleman back this season, he might be the solution to their red zone woes.
Quarterback Matt Ryan said he likes having both running backs in the backfield because it gives the Falcons a dual threat that their opponents will have trouble stopping.
Freeman said he will continue working hard until he gets to where he wants to be as a player, if he does that this season, opponents will have their hands full with the Falcons.