The Falcons’ Devonta Freeman: From second-string to first-rate

101215-falcons-photos-CC27

Devonta Freeman, the new main man. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

These short takes are offered in conjunction with the Falcons-Redskins game column, which can be found here. The Falcons won 25-19 in overtime. They’re 5-0.

1. Devonta Freeman has taken the heavy lifting from Julio Jones. With Jones clearly not himself Sunday — he dropped at least two passes and caught only five, none in the first half — Freeman accounted for 197 yards rushing and pass-catching. He scored the touchdown that gave the Falcons the lead with 24 seconds left in regulation after seeing an apparent touchdown at 0:51 overturned by replay. He’s fast and he’s strong and he has, over the past three weeks, given the Falcons a smallish approximation of Marshawn Lynch, who carried the offense of Dan Quinn’s former team. It’s hard to believe now, but Freeman wasn’t the starter in Weeks 1 and 2, the job having been won by the rookie Tevin Coleman. Healthy again, the plan was to give Coleman some of Freeman’s carries in Sunday’s game. Coleman gained three yards on two rushes. Quinn said the Falcons went with “the hot hand.” There are no hotter hands on this team than Freeman’s.

2. Roddy White is the people’s choice. After catching two passes in three weeks, the former Pro Bowler snagged two big ones Sunday. The first was a 16-yard gain early in the fourth quarter that led to the Falcons’ first touchdown. (Yes, they took forever to score that first touchdown, about which more later.) The second saved the game. After Freeman’s touchdown reception was nixed, the Falcons faced fourth-and-2 with 51 seconds remaining. White shook free over the middle against man coverage. The 7-yard gain was the bridge between Freeman’s non-touchdown and the one that counted. And White’s first catch had the Georgia Dome crowd chanting, “Rod-dy! Rod-dy!”

3. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than … well, you know. It would be nice to say that Julio Jones’ unending drive was the reason he fell on Freeman’s fumble in the end zone for the Falcons’ first touchdown. Nice, but inaccurate. Jones was standing and watching on the left side of the line as Freeman was stripped of the ball by defensive end Chris Baker. The ball simply got batted Julio’s way. To his credit, he didn’t dribble it out of bounds. But still: That was the warm smile of Dame Fortune, and it made you wonder if Somebody Up There hasn’t taken a liking to these Birds.

Reader Comments 0

88 comments
John Robinson
John Robinson

Shanahan continues to impress with his play calling. To think he doesn't really have a system. I read a past quote where he was asked and replied "I don't really have a system, it's whatever the defense's weakness is". W/ an entirely new group he's managed to be Unpredictable, creative and has a great feel for the offense, all qualities neither Smitty or Dirk consistently showed us.

anotherdawg
anotherdawg

Two observations: 


Matt Bryant is human, but kudos for the ability to hit each post on consecutive kicks, and then split them on the next one.


Devonte Freeman is looking super human.  He doesn't even resemble the back early in the season.  Wow!

Hopeless in ATL
Hopeless in ATL

@anotherdawg I agree, he looks better than Steven Jackson ever did in a Falcons uni too.  What a waste of resources that was.    

JustSomeThoughts
JustSomeThoughts

Been to plenty of games over the years, but for whatever reason the logistics at the Dome yesterday were horrific.  There were hundreds of people (including me) who had issues with barcodes on their tickets.  Also, not sure if they were training a new staff but all gates were completely jammed packed and it took almost an hour just to get into the stadium.  They talk about the fans not being in their seats but when you can't even get in the place, dont put that on us.  And it had nothing to do with construction, just horrible logistics.

'Don''tbeafool'
'Don''tbeafool'

@JustSomeThoughts Let's also mention some drink stands accept credit/debit and others don't, but there is no sign to tell you they are cash only. Waited 10 minutes in line at the same stand I go to every game and this game it was cash only. 


There was also no soap or paper towels in the bathroom. I hope the GWCC doesn't run the new stadium this way. 


RexHavoc
RexHavoc

They are exciting, but still so frustrating.  At this point there is no way they beat a team of NE's caliber.  They still need a balanced attack.

TnDawg
TnDawg

Great win for the Falcons, exciting to see the team at 5-0. We will need Roddy White long term.  He seems to checked out a little mentally.  Quinn has to find ways to get him more involved so his mindset will be right down the stretch.  Go Falcons!!

MaField
MaField

Cosmo I am with you on this!!!

I got to the Dome around 11:30 AM!!!

Fans need to be in their seats before the team comes out of the tunnel!!!! So many of them just wander in long after the game has started!!! SMH!!!!!

slydawg
slydawg

@MaField I travel to NFL games as part of my job. Atlanta fans are not unique in this at all. The only fans that are in their seats 30 minutes prior (and full capacity) are the traditional NFL cornerstone franchises: Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New York Giants, Chicago Bears. You can now add the NE Patriots fans to that list.


I would love for our city's fans to be in this group, but alas, until the franchises of this town put together consistent winners and start winning championships, the behavior will continue.

'Don''tbeafool'
'Don''tbeafool'

Some key points from yesterday's win:


1) Pass rush is still weak, but the goal wasn't to rush the passer this game. It was to stop the number rushing team, which they did.

2) Matty Ice is cold. His passing the last four games is awful. He needs to get his head on a swivel and enjoy the time the offensive line is giving him. 

3) Freeman is a workhorse, but we can't rely on one player to keep us in the game. (See UGA and Chubb) 

4) Matt Bryant is still the man! We all have off days!

5) This team is tough. These guys play hard and we can't ask for more than we are getting. Dan Quinn has turned this team around, but the season is still young and we need to start mixing up our plays more. We are becoming predictable. 

cshudson24
cshudson24

@'Don''tbeafool' Matty Ice is cool? Hmmm. yesterday was his only bad game, but he did lead them down the field to the game. The prior four games he was very good. 

'Don''tbeafool'
'Don''tbeafool'

@cshudson24


To borrow from another article which I happen to agree wtih for the most part on the AJC,

"Overall, Ryan has five turnovers (four interceptions, one fumble) in five games and a quarterback efficiency rating of 90.7, which ranks only 18th in the NFL."


As I'm sure you know, that's 18 out of 32. This is not the Matt Ryan we know. 


Morning Dew
Morning Dew

Matt nearly lost the game for us. This is the past, let's move on to Thursday and destroy the Saints.

G_
G_

@Morning Dew It's characteristic of Matt to have a tough game against top tier defenses.  Skins have a legit defense and a formidable front 7.  Like most QBs in the league, Matt is not immune to tough defenses.  It's not a fluke that he had a bad day. 

vesaversa
vesaversa

It was a tough game where not much went right for the Falcons . But good teams have those type of games but always manage to find a way to win. 

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

With all their Balling CQ understands that the Birds are no where near where he Sees them. He will continue to improve this team.  Go Falcons !!

tlmaddox
tlmaddox

A win is a win but a pass rush would be nice as well.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Maybe it is just my observation but to me MR seems to have a tired arm or something that is taking the zip out of his throws.

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

I'm sure this has been discussed, but I must just say that the call reversing the touchdown in the 4th was the most absurd and outrageous call I've ever seen.  Freeman caught the ball, took two steps after the catch with complete control of the ball, breaks the plane with control, hits ground with control, rolls over and ball falls out.  Terrible! Glad it didn't cost us the game. 

G_
G_

The Good:  First of all, WE WON!  Ugly wins count just as much as pretty wins.  Shout out to defense for making key plays at critical times.  We were still solid against the run.  Devante Freeman is currently our team MVP.  Matt made some gutsy plays at the end of regulation. 


The Bad - Injuries............Julio is far less than 100%.  Hank has sore ribs.  Coleman is not totally healthy, and the nagging injuries are piling up.  Not good, with a short week to prepare for your rival.  


The Ugly - Both Matts were struggling.  Three (3) turnovers all on the QB.  It doesn't appear Matt and the coaches were on the same page.  Too much passing early on.  Matt was forcing too many passes.  Matt Bryant missed FGs he normally makes.  Weems is simply non-productive, much like Worrilow.  None of the team captains lead by example.  

David McCallum
David McCallum

@G_ This would be a good week to activate Hardy. Let's give this young player a chance. The Falcons are already paying for the overuse of Julio. Sure, it looks good for fantasy league owners of Julio, but as a Falcons fan, you can't be happy. Falcons fans may not want to hear this but Julio, since coming into the league, has been an injury-prone player who can't stay healthy. That scares me for the long haul.

RexHavoc
RexHavoc

@G_ Last year these int's were the difference in big games. At least this year the damage is slightly less.

David McCallum
David McCallum

What scared me the most about the game yesterday was the ways in which the Redskins controlled most of the game. I will give the O-Line a pass for yesterday as far their pass blocking, but a repeat performance like that will be unacceptable. Kirk Cousin is an average QB. think any knowlegeable NFL fan will agree with that statement. My point is that any QB can pick apart any defense that doesn't put consistent pressure on the QB. If the Falcons don't fix their pass rush they are going to have problems when it matters most, especially against much better QBs. 


I personally think the Falcons need much better DTs. Hageman is a bust so far. Perhaps, he's okay against the run, but it appears that he is being overwhelmed charging up field.  Babs is past his prime. To solidify this DL, the Falcons must get a DT that can take over games which will help the DEs play much better. Beasley, even though he has struggled getting to the QB, has been the Falcons best D-Lineman. 


The true test for me, believe it or not, comes this week when the Falcons visit Falcons killer Drew Brees. This is a QB who has consistently killed the Falcons because of ONE reason; no pressure on him. Even though the Saints stink, they will win this game if the Falcons do not consistently harass and knock this QB around. 

HopelessinAtlanta
HopelessinAtlanta

@David McCallum You obviously have no clue of what you are talking about. Redskins controlled the game? Time of possession 34 to 27 Falcons, rushing 176 to 51 Falcons, passing 242 to 219 Falcons. Score? Enough said.

PappyHappy
PappyHappy

THey are terrific to watch!


* Great defense, and AGGRESSIVE PLAY

David McCallum
David McCallum

@PappyHappy Really! Great defense. Not yet, but the Falcons have the potential to be. Just not this season because they don't quite have the players.

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

Here's my 3 takes from de Island mon -

1) Roddy saved the game. Roddy is a Falcon God.

2) Alford, trufant & Moore are Ballers.

3) Noodle-arm is NOT elite in any universe, and maybe he doesn't have to be with Quinn & Shanahan

Surfs Up. No really. Way up.

Hopeless in ATL
Hopeless in ATL

@St Simons he-ne-ha Freeman, the OL, and defense saved the game.  Ole "noodle arm" is the best QB we've had in a long time.  Make a field goal and there is no OT.    

David McCallum
David McCallum

Here is my take from the game yesterday. The most important thing is that the Falcons won  the game. I for one demand more from this team. I'm not the fan who is going to hoot and holla about being 5-0. There are still obvious flaws on this team that must be addressed before I can take this team seriously. I personally don't care about what the other so-called great teams are doing. The bottom line for me is that the Falcons are still lacking in one of most important areas that has ailed this team since I can remember. The Falcons clearly do not get to the QB enough. It really does remind me of the past. Sure, Falcons fans are going to say look at the record; and they would be right. But to me, I am looking beyond the record because the NFL as we all know is a win now league and the Falcons are in a position to do some damage.





Peachs
Peachs

Parity, every game is going to be close.  I love the defense, they tackle, and won the game on an interception.  

Like-It-Is
Like-It-Is

While any win is a win, how you win matters. Falcons can't keep winning in the 4th quarter. They need to take control and keep control for the start.  Can't count on catching up at the end.

GeorgeJuarez
GeorgeJuarez

Is there a coincidence that Atlanta is winning and Seattle is losing, do they miss Quinn, great job Birds keep on winning, I take a win whether its ugly or pretty a win is a win

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I wondered the exact same thing yesterday - good point!

DMo
DMo

Quinning!

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

I was at the game as well. There sure are a lot of fat people there. 

IamCosmo
IamCosmo

I was at the game yesterday and I have to say that it gets ridiculous how late our fans show up to the game! At kickoff we were at around 75% capacity. I see the Giants game last night at kickoff and they are seated and ready to go. Come on people! Get to your damn seats and start yelling! This team is great to watch, support them from the first whistle!

G_
G_

@IamCosmo Folks down south are late for everything.............concerts, church, work and everything else.  So, the game fits right in. Don't compare us to anyone else.  We do what works for us.    

Dman
Dman

I did, geez, ease up Cosmo... We won...

LegalBeagle3
LegalBeagle3

@IamCosmo I agree--was at last week's game against the Texans and thought the same thing.  BUT in defense of the fans, i will say that the people who work there are beyond incompetent.  If you, god forbid, want to get a drink or a bite to take to your seat,you will wait FOREVER--bunch of idiots moping around bouncing into each other and getting nothing done efficiently (go figure).  I literally spent almost the entire second quarter last weekend trying to get a margarita (with about 4 people in line ahead of me took a good 15-20 min), and nachos (another 15-20 min).  There is NO excuse for this kind of incompetence, especially at the prices they charge.  Get it together Dome people!!

CedricM
CedricM

With that huge win, ATL will win their weak division easily!! AtL can upset green bay in the playoffs if they get some turnovers!

GT71
GT71

Nicely done.  Winning when not at your best is a very good sign.

And we give thanks for the '5 things' the AJC gives us...for 'free'.  Now get the scores right, the TV listings for the right day and we're happy.  Sorta.