The Atlanta Falcons’ backfield hasn’t produced a 1,000-yard rusher since Devonta Freeman in 2016, but with a new coach and new running back options, we could see things turn around in 2021.
Atlanta didn’t think twice about not signing Todd Gurley again, instead, they made room to bring in veteran tailback Mike Davis.
The Georgia native is coming home after a two-year stint with the Carolina Panthers.
And according to Falcons’ Digital Managing Editor Scott Bair, Davis is expected to make an immediate impact on the Falcons’ offense.
“This is a grand opportunity for Davis, who has worked largely as a secondary option to this point, Bair wrote in his latest article discussing Falcons’ top free agents. “He was behind Christian McCaffrey in Carolina and Chris Carson in Seattle during other parts of his career, but has a chance to be the go-to guy in Atlanta.”
The Falcons have yet to name Davis as their No. 1 running back option, but we can assume he’s the only vetted back best suited for the job.
“The nature of his position will mean Davis will be featured more than other veteran imports, but he’ll have a real chance to take the reins, improve the run game and put his stamp on this year’s Falcons offense. The passing game has plenty of weapons. A solid run game would help balance this offense score the steady points required to keep things competitive.”
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Falcons Offensive Line Will Need to Step Up
The Falcons’ ground game was non-existent last year after finishing the season ranked second-to-last, averaging 3.7 yards per carry over 409 attempts.
Of course, you can’t put all of the blame on the Falcons’ running backs last season, it goes much deeper than that.
Bair wasn’t ignorant to the fact that in order for the Falcons to have a solid run game, they need a solid blocking effort from the offensive line.
“While Davis will be integral in that effort, he’s part of a larger operation. Smith’s play design will help the entire thing, but the Falcons can’t run well without solid play from the offensive front. Center Matt Hennessy and the player lined up at left guard – Josh Andrews seems like a frontrunner at this incredibly early stage, with plenty of time for competition — will be key in rushing improvement.”
The left guard position remains a huge question mark since projected starter Matt Gono is out indefinitely after having surgery for an undisclosed injury. The competition will be hot this offseason between Andrews, Drew Dalman, and Jaylen Mayfield for the starting left guard spot.
Davis Has Been Putting in the Necessary Work
After being forced to step in for the injured Christian McCaffrey last season, Davis finished with 642 yards and six touchdowns on 165 yards, for a 3.9-yard average.
Hopefully, with the help of Arthur Smith, Davis can see those numbers rise just like Derrick Henry did.
But for what it’s worth, Davis looks like he’s in the best shape of his life after a photo of his mammoth quads went viral in May.