The opportunity was there for Tyler Allgeier to make his mark. Selected in the fifth round by a coach that loves running the ball, the former BYU standout seemed to be an ideal fit for the Falcons’ offense. That said, he knew nothing was going to be handed to him in a crowded backfield of veterans featuring Cordarrelle Patterson and Damien Williams.
He needed to earn the trust of the coaching staff and his teammates. Given his tremendous work ethic and dedication to learning, it seemed like Allgeier’s time would eventually come as the lead back. His time came with a significant bang, which resulted in a 1,000-yard season for one of the most productive running games in the league.
In our first interview last year, Allgeier spoke about his college journey from being a walk-on to one of the best college running backs in the country. Despite his accolades, he didn’t set any particular goals for his first year in the league. He just wanted to make the 53-man roster and contribute wherever he could. The plan to contribute translated into breaking the Falcons’ rookie rushing yardage record. Opposing defenses struggled to cope with his punishing running style. Arthur Smith’s array of run designs meshed perfectly with his quick cuts and decisiveness. Everything came together in what was a special rookie season for him.
Allgeier doesn’t look back on his impressive statistics or specific highlight-reel moments as the most satisfying aspect of his rookie year. The overall process of his development is what interests him. Finding your place in the NFL is difficult. Rookies aren’t instantly put in a position to succeed. They have to earn all the reps they can get. They must understand all the responsibilities of their respective position. It can be an extremely challenging adjustment period for rookies, particularly in environments where the team is losing. That’s why Allgeier views comfort as the most gratifying part of 2022.
“Being able to find my place and get comfortable was the biggest thing,” Allgeier stated. “When you get into this league, you want to get comfortable with the pace of the game. My mindset was all about taking it day by day, and the rest of the success will take its place. I knew I could make a big difference. It was just finding comfort and being able to maintain full focus each day.”
It wasn’t one touchdown or standout performance that helped him find comfort. Consistency is hugely important to Allgeier. As is the case with most rookies, they need every rep possible to acclimate to the NFL. Increased playing time can be the ultimate launching pad for a rookie to make strides in their overall game. That proved to be the case for the powerhouse running back.
“Towards the midpoint of the season, I felt the progression happening gradually,” Allgeier said. “There were definitely some jitters early on. My first game was against the Rams. It doesn’t get much bigger than facing the champs. When I got on the field and saw a hole, I just wanted to go. I didn’t really have a feel for the tempo at first. It kind of felt like being a freshman again. Those rookie jitters were there.”
“Once I started getting more reps, I started getting more comfortable. By the halfway point of the season, I had to remind myself that I’m here for a reason. I got to have fun doing what I love. That was another one of those times where I was just like I got to have fun. I worked my butt off to get here. I didn’t get here just because I want the check. I told myself you do all this because you love the game of football. You have a real passion for it.”
The progression was evident from seeing Allgeier receive double-digit carries for every game in October. Although his carries slightly dipped in November, he continued to run hard and prove to be a valuable contributor in an ultra-talented backfield with Patterson, Caleb Huntley, and Avery Williams. The valuable contributor transformed into the offensive focal point in December and January. Allgeier exploded for 139 yards on 17 carries against a stout Saints’ defense in Week 15. In what was arguably his most impressive performance of the season, his favorite memory was simply the pure joy of doing what he loves to do.
“Honestly, it was more fun for me than anything else,” Allgeier chucked. “It was another game where I had fun and let loose. The biggest thing was being loose and embracing everything that came at me. Coaches always tell me to let loose and have fun. That’s what we do. You don’t even count your reps. You just have to make your reps count. That was a game where I made them count for sure.”
The coaching staff has been hugely influential in Allgeier’s growth. He credits them for their belief in him from the beginning. Terry Fontenot and Smith were firm believers that he could be a game-changer in the offense. It’s no secret the fiery head coach loves a bruising running back that brutalizes opposing defenses and gains yards after contact without much resistance. Allgeier is greatly appreciative of Smith’s trust in him to be that player for his offense. There are also other things he enjoys about playing for him.
“How he curses out the refs is one of the best things,” Allgeier said, laughing. “That’s got to be up there. Man, he’s a great coach. I love learning from him. He obviously coached Derrick Henry so when I got here, I knew this was a great opportunity for me to develop. I was the first running back drafted by him as a head coach. That’s an honor to me. He clearly values the running back position and loves those power backs. It was the perfect fit for me as a person and scheme-wise. I heard he referred to me as a sledgehammer recently. That’s for sure an accurate way to describe my running style.”
Showing gratitude and acknowledging the people who helped elevate him is something Allgeier does often. He knows how much a team effort it takes to execute at the highest level. The explosive runs against the likes of New Orleans, Cleveland, and Chicago are initiated by the offensive line and play design. Many of those big runs went toward the direction of the right side. While Allgeier is ecstatic about Chris Lindstrom getting a massive contract extension and Kaleb McGary returning, he wants the entire offensive line to get the recognition they deserve.
“All of my success goes to them big boys,” Allgeier declared. “They set me up, and I make them rich. They work their tails off. I’m grateful for all of them. I know there was a switch-up at left guard, but everyone played a part in my success. I love what we have up front as a whole.”
Continuing to evolve has always been essential for the humble running back. He wants to be a player that can be trusted and utilized in all situations. The effort put into improving as a receiver and pass protector paid off by earning more responsibility on passing plays over the final ten games of the season. Allgeier is proud he was able to show he can be on the field on third and long and make valuable contributions. The satisfaction doesn’t mean he will become content, as he expresses a strong desire to develop his all-around skillset and learn from tough defeats against teams like Baltimore.
“I’m still striving to be that complete back,” Allgeier stated. “The work’s far from done. Of course, I heard the labels of me just being a power back. I think I showed what I can do in all phases out of the backfield. I thought I protected Desmond (Ridder) and Marcus (Mariota) well. It’s all about learning the little details when it comes to blocking and finding comfortability in doing my role on passing plays. I’m going to continue to improve and not allow myself to rest on being satisfied with what I did. I proved a lot last year, but I know I can grow.”
“That Ravens game was a big learning experience for me cause, wow, they are good. Man, that was a battle. That game was an example of how you never know with this league. Anyone can win, depending on how perfect of a game you play. The team that commits the fewest mental errors and allows fewer big plays is most likely going to win. We fought hard, but that game made me realize what the margin for error in this league is like.”
The second part of my interview with Allgeier will be published tomorrow. He will share his reaction to the Falcons selecting Bijan Robinson, and we also get into the team’s free agent signings and partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.