The Atlanta Falcons certainly missed Devonta Freeman, though you wouldn’t know it from the results on the field. Tevin Coleman was predictably good as a fill-in, and the Falcons won the Dallas game Freeman exited, plus their next two.
What the Falcons missed was Freeman’s physicality, balance, and general excellence, which manifests itself in so many big carries, timely receptions, and big-time blocks in the passing game. Freeman is just one of the best backs in the NFL, and having him and Tevin Coleman on the field give Atlanta a puncher’s chance of running against one of the league’s best rushing defenses.
Even better news? They don’t have to ease Freeman back in.
Coach Quinn said their won't be a limit on Devonta Freeman on Sunday, he's fresh and ready to go. Quinn is really excited to have both of his top RBs back healthy— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) November 30, 2017
I’m always wary of players coming back after multiple concussions in a single year, but hopefully Free is truly ready to go. It is true that Freeman has a couple of weeks of rest he’s not accustomed to, and that there was never really any doubt that he’d take over as Atlanta’s 1A option when he returned. There just aren’t many backs who are more well-rounded, and Atlanta hasn’t even done a tremendous job of getting Free involved in the passing game yet in 2017.
I’d expect Freeman to get 10-15 carries and Coleman to pick up 5-10, assuming the Falcons can find any purchase at all against this Vikings defense. Free hasn’t had a ton of luck running against superior fronts like the Jets and Bills this year—I swear the Bills had a good run defense, once—but may this be the exception.