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Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman should share carries more evenly in 2016

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Carries, mind you, not touches.

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Devonta Freeman was the clear lead back in Atlanta a year ago, putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber season in which he scored 11 touchdowns 265 carries and hauled in 73 receptions. Tevin Coleman began the year as the starter, but his early injury opened things up for Freeman, and the former Florida State product heads into 2016 as the undisputed starter.

Despite that, I fully expect the Falcons to try to split more evenly between the two this year, for a handful of reasons.

  1. Freeman was a useful back all year, but he was a much better blocker and receiver than a runner past a certain point, as he averaged well under 4 yards per carry over the last five weeks of the season. You give the line some grief for that, of course, but Coleman averaged close to 5 yards per carry over the same span, albeit on fewer carries.
  2. The two backs offer different looks for the defense. Freeman leans into contact, can bull through hits, and has excellent vision, while Coleman offers agility and straight line speed that can break a game open.
  3. The Falcons will want to keep both players fresh. Having a platoon at running back is an ideal situation in 2016, one that many teams around the league are trying to replicate. The Falcons may be short a pure power complement, but they have a terrific all-around lead back and a speedy, dynamic backup. That ain't bad.

For all that, Freeman is still going to dominate touches this year, because he's by far the superior receiver and blocker, and Coleman dealt with a legitimate fumbling problem in 2015 that he's going to have to overcome heading into the year. You shouldn't be shocked if Freeman gets 200 carries and Coleman's pushing 150 this year, and I honestly believe the Falcons' ground game will be more effective for it.

How about you?