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Falcons have a young, elite running back for the first time in two decades

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How has it been so long?

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

RB Devonta Freeman has started for four games, and in that time has 695 yards and 9 touchdowns. This is not simply a great stretch. Freeman is an elite back with fantastic vision and nice pass catchings skills. The Falcons have had a few top running backs in the last two decades, but Freeman is different in one important way: he is only 23.

The Falcons have spent the last 20 years with an inconsistent run game, thanks to older backs that fall apart a few years into their contract. Looking back, Falcons fans suffered through the failed Steven Jackson experiment. In five seasons, Michael Turner gave us three truly great years. In six seasons, Warrick Dunn gave us three 1,100+ yard seasons.

You have to go back to Jamal Anderson to find the last Atlanta running back that gave us more than three great seasons. That was because, in part, the Falcons drafted him instead of signing him after his career was half over.

As we have seen, the Falcons have been unable to maintain a consistent run game by relying on veterans and missing on draft selections. Freeman is a home run pick, and should allow the Falcons to have an impressive run game both in the short and long term. For the first time in decades, the Falcons have a great running back not on their career decline.

Lets hope we can say the same about Tevin Coleman soon.