John Fricke takes an advance look at the Atlanta Falcons at the positional level. This examination is on the running back corps and the quarterbacks as training camp begins in 22 days.
Steve Sarkisian – Offensive Coordinator
Keith Carter – Running Backs Coach
Bush Hamdan – Quarterbacks Coach
Camp Depth Chart
QB: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Matt Simms, Alex Torgersen
RB: Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Brian Hill, Terron Ward, Tyler Renew
FB: Derrick Coleman
When you’re asked about how good your team’s quarterback is and you start with: “Well, he is the reigning NFL MVP,” then, good chance, it’s a conversation that is going to go your way.
Matt Ryan is reaching his peak as an NFL QB and his ninth season at the helm was his best. Ryan completed and eye-popping 70 percent of his passes throwing for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns. This season he will pass 40,000 yards and 250 touchdowns in his illustrious career. Rather than run down the list of accomplishments, it is easier to state that there is no longer any debate. Ryan is an elite quarterback.
The Falcons have a luxury in a backup the quality of Matt Schaub, a 13-year veteran who started his pro career with the club and then went to Houston where he became a quality starter. In 2009 Schaub threw for 4,770 yards and 29 TDs and twice led the Texans to the playoffs.
Devonta Freeman has proven he is a top-tier NFL running back. Back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and his ability to create and score catching the ball (27 regular season touchdowns the last two seasons) have earned him Pro Bowl honors. Entering his fourth season Freeman appears set to become an even stronger asset.
Tevin Coleman has proven to be one of the most explosive offensive weapons in the entire NFL. His tremendous burst makes him a threat to score every time he touches the ball. After scoring just one touchdown his rookie season, Coleman broke out in 2016; 941 total yards and 11 touchdowns later Coleman has become a player other defenses fear. He and Freeman comprise, arguably, the best running back tandem in the game today.
Terron Ward has added huge value to the club. A steady performer who has been both reliable and effective (330 total yards in his two seasons).
The Falcons drafted Brian Hill after a stellar college career at Wyoming. A bigger back (6-foot-1, 220 pounds) who was among the top-10 runners in college football in 2016. NFL.com says: “Confident and effective over tackles and around the end. Can crank it to top speed quickly once he turns the corner.”
Derrick Coleman has to fill the big gap left by the departure of longtime fullback Pat DiMarco. Coleman is the first deaf offensive player in the NFL. Coleman scored a pair of touchdowns in his career (both receiving) during his seasons in Seattle.
Simply put the Falcons quarterback-running back combination is likely the best in the game today. Expectations are, and should be, high this group will light up the scoreboard all season long.