2. Re-establish the running game
It wasn’t that long ago that running back Devonta Freeman was invited to consecutive Pro Bowls and looked like one of the premier players at his position in the league. A fourth-round draft choice out of 2014 from Florida State, his second and third seasons in the league resulted in a combined 3,175 yards from scrimmage and 27 trips to the end zone, and he missed just one regular-season game.
But it’s been a much different story the past three years. Freeman has missed a total of 18 contests and has rolled up on 2,339 scrimmage yards and 14 touchdowns. In 2018, he was available for only two games and Tevin Coleman — who joined the San Francisco 49ers last season — became the top threat out of the backfield. This past season, the five-year veteran played and started 14 games and led the team with 656 yards on the ground, to go along with two TDs. But only the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets finished with fewer yards on the ground this past season. Earlier this month, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated speculated that Freeman could be a salary-cap casualty this offseason.
The Falcons were a very one-dimensional offense this past year and it’s at least one reason quarterback Matt Ryan had his issues with turnovers (19) throughout the year. Throwing more than they wanted made it easy for defenses to tee off on the veteran hurler. In any case, Atlanta’s ground game needs a boost in a very big way.