Atlanta's offense has continually put up astronomical numbers week in and week out. But, for the past four weeks, the majority of recent attention has been on one offensive player in particular, Devonta Freeman.
Freeman had yet another game where he rushed for 100 yards on Thursday night in New Orleans. This is the third time this season the explosive back has rushed for 100 yards or more this season. Through six weeks, Freeman has now tallied 10 total touchdowns.
One would think that these numbers would prove that Freeman has been the No. 1 guy all along. Not necessarily so, and this is part of the reason why the Falcons' run game is so lethal.
Enter rookie running back Tevin Coleman.
Coleman was named the starting back prior to the Falcons' first game of the season on Monday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. The fourth-round draft pick out of Indiana was off to a great start before getting hurt in Week 2 in New York. Coleman suffered an injury to his ribs and missed two games.
While Coleman was sidelined, Freeman began to shine. Against the Cowboys, Freeman took off. He tallied 193 total yards, including 141 yards on the ground on 30 carries with three touchdowns.
Last week against the Redskins, Coleman and Freeman were both active for the first time since the Falcons win at the Giants. Freeman was Atlanta's featured back, but Coleman did get two carries.
One of the most interesting plays of the Falcons' thrilling win over Washington was a fumble by Freeman in the red zone that WR Julio Jones recovered for a touchdown.
Prior to that play, Freeman had only one fumble in his 20 career games in the NFL. In Atlanta's most recent loss to the Saints on primetime television, Coleman put up 40 yards on four carries, but lost a fumble. The fumble took place on New Orleans' nine-yard line, and came at a costly time.
Following the play, Coleman was given some guidance from someone who knew what he was feeling and thinking, more than anyone else. "I just let him know to keep his head up," Freeman said to Coleman. "You are a great athlete, this doesn't determine anything. Just get better from it and learn from it."
Head coach Dan Quinn always talks about the closeness of the guys in the locker room and how that translates to success on the field. It seems that Freeman and Coleman, through their competition have become extremely close and this has helped Freeman develop into a leader despite only being in his second-year.
"You generally see those leadership opportunities come up, and he's a guy that connects with so many people in the team," said Dan Quinn. "Devonta [Freeman] has this relationship with so many guys on the team. They respect him so much for how hard he competes, but there's another side of him being a great teammate, as well."
Although Atlanta might have the youngest tandem of running backs in the NFL, they certainly might have the closest duo as well.