After Sunday’s win over the New Orleans Saints, a lot was made out of Matt Ryan’s spectacular performance, and rightfully so. However, Atlanta’s running game was present and a definite factor in contributing to the victory. Keep in mind, Atlanta was down a couple scores early in the game.
As a team, the Falcons rushed for 123 yards on 25 carries, including one touchdown run. For the day, Atlanta averaged 4.9 yards per carry, and six of those 25 rushing attempts went for first downs. With the limited data, Atlanta looks like they’ll have production from the running game this season.
Steven Jackson led the Falcons with 12 carries and 52 yards, while Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 34 yards on six carries. Both players had long runs of 17 yards. They didn’t have many gash plays, but their consistency is something that bodes well for the future. Antone Smith and Devonta Freeman each carried the ball twice.
That shows that Atlanta has four viable running backs on the roster, and they don’t have to abandon running attack ever. In fact, expect Devonta Freeman to receive an expanded role as the season progresses.
The Falcons have a rough task ahead in week two when they face Cincinnati’s vaunted front seven. Baltimore only had 20 rushing attempts against Cincinnati, and they basically abandoned the run altogether. The Bengals did have a problem with the quickness of Justin Forsett, so Rodgers could pose a problem if the Falcons can create some creases. Overall, the Bengals gave up 91 yards rushing.
It’s evident that passing 60 times a game is not the way to beat Cincinnati, therefore, Atlanta must produce a balanced game plan. The Falcons have the players and the attitude to attack this defense, but they must show patience.
Atlanta has already shown attrition on the offensive line. Offensive tackle Jake Matthews is doubtful for Sunday’s game with an injured ankle, but they are waiting to make a decision on Friday, according to NFL.com. That’s also more reason for the Falcons to utilize the ground attack. It will help soften up the pass rush.