The Atlanta Falcons had a true bellcow back from 2008-2012 in the form of Michael Turner, a bruising human bowling ball who ran roughshod over the NFL, particularly from 2008-2010. When Turner was dumped after a mediocre 2012 season, the team turned to Steven Jackson as their feature back, but due to aging, injury, line play and other options, he's been far from the feature back I think the Falcons envisioned he would be.
The Falcons head into the 2015 season with only Jackson and second-year back Devonta Freeman under contract. Jackson may well be cut to free up cap space, and while Freeman had encouraging flashes of ability in his rookie year, you're not going to roll into the upcoming season with him as the clear-cut starter. Whether the Falcons re-sign Antone Smith and/or Jacquizz Rodgers or try to work Ronnie WIngo and Jerome Smith into the mix, it is clear they have decisions to make.
Those decisions bring us to a vital question: Do the Falcons need a feature back in the Turner mold? Many teams in the NFL now operate with committees, with varying results, and Freeman has the kind of well-rounded skill set necessary to be the lead dog in such a committee. One can easily envision the Falcons acquiring a short yardage bruiser, re-signing Rodgers for his blocking acumen and potentially re-signing Antone Smith as a speedy situational threat, giving them the kind of four man backfield I think we all envisioned they'd have in 2014.
Obviously I'm conjecturing, here, but I do think the Falcons will lean toward a committee with Freeman at the lead in 2015. If they manage to fill those spots smartly and Freeman develops nicely in his second year, I also think that can be effective for the team, pending offensive line upgrades or a switch to a more running back-friendly blocking scheme. What say you?