Atlanta Falcons Blog

Atlanta Falcons blog by D. Orlando Ledbetter, the pro football and Atlanta Falcons reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cover 9@9: Falcons have a wonderful problem at running back

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter & CineSport’s Noah Coslov preview the Falcons game against Washington by talking about the potential return of Tevin Coleman & how to slow down quarterback Kirk Cousins.

1. Crowded backfield. The Falcons have a wonderful problem facing them when running back Tevin Coleman returns from his fractured rib injury.

He started some light running last week and coach Dan Quinn is hopeful that he can return to practice today.

“We’ll probably be able to get him for sure some work starting on Wednesday,” Quinn said. “We are hoping that he’ll be back with us.”

Coleman and Freeman battled for the top running back spot until they suffered hamstring injuries on Aug. 5 and Aug. 6, respectively. Freeman was ahead at the time and Coleman was making his move.

Coleman recovered quicker and opened the season as the starting running back. He rushed 20 times for 80 yards in the season-opening victory over the Eagles.

Coleman was off to a good day against the New York Giants with nine carries for 32 yards before suffering the fractured rib. Freeman took over and didn’t do much in that game.

But with a week of preparation and knowing that he had to carry the load, Freeman erupted in his first NFL start against Dallas.

He rushed for 141 yards on 30 carries and scored three touchdowns. He also caught five passes for 52 yards against the Cowboys.

In a little over two quarters of action against the Texans, Freeman rushed for 68 yards on 14 carries and scored three touchdowns. He also caught five passes for 81 yards.

So, after going for 193 and 149 total yards and six touchdowns, some want to see Freeman full-time.

But Quinn indicated that Coleman will slide back into the rotation when he’s healthy.

“It would some to a certain degree,” Quinn said when asked if Freeman’s role would be decreased with the return of Coleman. “But we have such good confidence in Devonta that he’s going to make the opportunities count. His toughness, his (ability to) finish. He plays with such a physical style with him.”

The Falcons like the combination of the two backs.

“We have a heck of a one-two combination between Devonta and Tevin,” Quinn said.

Also, they can spread out the pounding that both of the physical runners will certainly take. Freeman was limited in practice after suffering a toe injury against Dallas.

Coleman’s physical style remains me of the violent nature of Ahman Green’s runs.

”He’s just a physical player,” Quinn said. “He dishes out a lot too with the way he delivers the ball as opposed to catching it. Both of them are real physical backs.”

Freeman was pulled with 10:50 left in the third quarter against the Texans after he scored to make it 35-0.

He was seen on the sidelines thanking the linemen.

“That was a sign of respect and love,” Quinn said.

The Falcons are making the right move here. You can never have enough good running backs and after Terron Ward closed out the Texans’ game with 72 yards on 19 carries, they may actually have three quality backs.

Finally, the Falcons can put the Steven Jackson experiment behind them. Michael "The Burner" Turner has finally been replaced.

2. Batman and Robin. Wide receiver Julio Jones and Freeman are the Falcons dynamic duo on offense. Jones and Freeman have combined for 926 total yards, which is 57.4 percent of the Falcons’ total offense. Jones and Freeman have also scored a combined 11 of the team’s 15 touchdowns. No other duo on the same NFL team has more than eight combined touchdowns.

3. Defensive touchdowns a good sign. The Falcons scored their first defensive touchdowns of the season in Week 4 against Houston, when cornerback Desmond Trufant scooped up an Arian Foster fumble and returned it 24 yards for a touchdown. On the last play of the game, linebacker Nate Stupar recovered a fumble and returned in 84 for a touchdown. Since 2008 the Falcons are 15-4 when scoring a defensive touchdown.

4. Ryan’s streak. Ryan improved his streak of games with at least 250-passing yards to 11 games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. Ryan was 19 of 27 for 256 yards with one touchdown and a 112.6 passer rating. The Falcons offense had a stretch of seven quarters where they scored 67 unanswered points, dating back to their win at Dallas.

5. Run defenses stout. The Falcons and Washington, who play at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Georgia Dome, are both ranked in the top five in run defense. The Redskins give up 78 yards per game, which is second in the league. The Falcons give up 82.5 yards per game, which is fifth in the league.

6. Farriba named coach of the week. Stratford Academy head football coach Mark Farriba has been named the Atlanta Falcons coach of the week. Farriba is 3-2 this season, including wins over Savannah Country Day, Georgia Military College and First Presbyterian Day.

Farriba has been instrumental in changing the culture of health and safety with not only his football program, but also the community youth football programs as well. He has implemented a local flag football program providing opportunities for both boys and girls.

In addition to changing the youth programs, Farriba has incorporated Heads Up tackling techniques for his players. He also has promoted better eating habits and fitness throughout the year in his program.

Farriba is a member of the Macon Sports Hall of Fame and Stratford Academy Sports Hall of Fame.

“Coach Farriba cares about his players and teaches them to care about each other,” said assistant athletic director Terry Sowell. “He leads by example and teaches his players to take pride in their school. He has committed his life to investing in young people.”

As Coach of the Week, Farriba will receive a $1,000 grant to use towards his football program, a plaque signed by Falcons coach Dan Quinn and suite tickets to the Falcons home game on December 27.

Nominations for Coach of the Week can be submitted online at .

7. Quinn on the radio. Falcons coach Dan Quinn did a segment on the ‘We Need To Talk’ show on CBS Sports Network. It airs today at 10 a.m.

Here are some of the highlights:

Quinn on having music at practice: “When DJ Jay Envy comes (to practice) the speed definitely goes up. We did a lot of that during OTAs and minicamp. There’s also some throwback for sure. For me, (I like) a little bit of the Beastie Boys and Run DMC. We play more current things as well. Drake plays a bunch. We love the speed. We love it to be loud. When you’re playing on the road one of the big factors is the noise.  We try to make that feel as normal as we can, so we use the hand signals and the eye signals to communicate to each other.”

 Quinn on Seahawks coach Pete Carroll: “Coach Carroll had a huge impact on me as a coach. He challenged me in a number of different ways in terms of improving from a defensive philosophy and including me in bigger picture decisions from a head coaching perspective. I owe a lot to him. He’s been a great mentor to me and someone that I respect like crazy.”

8. Ryan is elite. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks over the past four seasons. He is rated fifth in the ESPN’s QBR poll from 2012-13 and 2014-15.

From 2012-13 he’s the fifth highest rated quarterback behind Peyton Manning,  Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. From 2014-2015 he’s fight behind Tony Romo, Rodgers, Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger.

9. Depth chart. ICYMI: The Falcons place returner Devin Hester, who’s been battling a nasty turf toe injury, on injured reserve-designed to return on Tuesday.

In other roster moves, the team signed safety Charles Godfrey and tight end Tony Moeaki. They released tight end Mickey Shuler.

“We have decided to place Devin on short-term IR,” Quinn said. “We have been trying to treat his toe injury the best we could, and he has been doing everything in his power to get back on the field, but at this point we think this is the best plan of action. We are confident this time will let Devin get healthy and be a big contributor to this team once he is back on the field.”

Hester will not be eligible to practice until six weeks has passed. Hester will also not be eligible to return to the active/inactive list until eight weeks, which is Week 13 of the season and the Falcons play at Tampa Bay.

Here's the new depth chart:


WR 11 Julio Jones, 85 Leonard Hankerson, 16 Justin Hardy

LT 70 Jake Matthews, 75 Jake Long

LG 67 Andy Levitre, 62 James Stone

C 68 Mike Person, 66 Gino Gradkowski

RG 65 Chris Chester, 62 James Stone

RT 73 Ryan Schraeder, 72 Bryce Harris

TE 83 Jacob Tamme, 80 Levine Toilolo, 81 Tony Moeaki

WR 84 Roddy White, 14 Eric Weems, 15 Nick Williams

QB 2 Matt Ryan, 12 Sean Renfree

RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 26 Tevin Coleman, 33 Terron Ward

FB 42 Patrick DiMarco


DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 99 Adrian Clayborn, 71 Kroy Biermann

DT 77 Ra’Shede Hageman, 97 Grady Jarrett

NT 96 Paul Soliai, 95 Jonathan Babineaux

DE 94 Tyson Jackson, 93 Malliciah Goodman

LB 52 Justin Durant, 59 Joplo Bartu

LB 55 Paul Worrilow, 53 Allen Bradford, 54 Nate Stupar

LB 50 O’Brien Schofield, 56 Brooks Reed

CB 23 Robert Alford, 32 Jalen Collins

CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 20 Phillip Adams, 22 Dezmen Southward

S 37 Ricardo Allen, 27 Robenson Therezie, 30 Charles Godfrey

S 25 Wiliam Moore, 36 Kemal Ishmael


K 3 Matt Bryant

KO 5 Matt Bosher

P 5 Matt Bosher

KR 14 Eric Weems

PR 14 Eric Weems

LS 47 Josh Harris

H 5 Matt Bosher

TEXANS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 48, Texans 21

How the Falcons hammered the Texans -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 48-21 win over the Texans

Devonta Freeman stars again for the Falcons

What the Falcons had to say after pummeling the Texans

9 comments from Dan Quinn on the Falcons' victory

Jeff Schult'z column: Devonta Freeman, 7 TDs -- who didn't see that coming

Schraeder, Matthews keep Watt in check

Hankerson turns in a 100-yard receiving day (second of his career)

Houston's J.J. Watt tips hat to the Falcons

Former Falcons great Jessie Tuggle honored during Texans game

COWBOYS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 39, Cowboys 28

Falcons 39, Cowboys 28 -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from the Falcons' 39-28 win over the Cowboys

Mark Bradley's short takes: Julio, Freeman and the defense

Devonta Freeman is catalyst for Falcons run game

QUOTEBOARD: What the Falcons had to say after beating Dallas

Julio Jones does it again: 12 catches, 164 yards and two touchdowns

Mark Bradley column: A dominant half shows what he Falcons could be

Offensive line cracked the run-game code

Ryan directed second-half fireworks show

Beasley help lead resurgence on defense

Where's Falcons wide receiver Roddy White?

GIANTS GAME COVERAGE -- Falcons 24, Giants 20

Falcons 24, Giants 20 -- Quarter by Quarter

5 things we learned from Falcons' 24-20 win over the Giants

Mark Bradley column -- Don't stop believin': Dan Quinn's men are 2-0

A record day for Julio Jones: 13 receptions

Kroy Biermann: 'We're a ball-attacking team'


5 things we learned from Falcons' upset win over Eagles

Matt Ryan leads Falcons to 26-24 win over the Eagles

Jeff Schultz column: An impressive debut by Quinn's new Falcons

Mark Bradley column: A new year: The Falcons dig deep and hang on

Julio Jones moves into fifth on Falcons' all-time receiving list

Tevin Coleman powers new rushing attack

Ricardo Allen seals victory in first start at free safety

4 questions with Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones after the game

Falcons rookies Beasley, Jarrett make impact

Falcons' revamped offensive line shows positive signs

Falcons quotes after their victory over the Eagles

Falcons-Eagles: By The Numbers

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About the Author

D. Orlando Ledbetter is the Atlanta Falcons beat writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.