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Running backs coach Michael Pitre discusses Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson

Falcons have potential to create explosive rushing attack in 2023

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — A large cornerstone of the Atlanta Falcons offense is a high-functioning run game.

The Falcons averaged 159.9 rushing yards last season for third-best in the league. In the offseason, Atlanta expanded its backfield by drafting Bijan Robinson No. 8 overall all while running it back with Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson.


At the helm resides running back coach Michael Pitre who took over the position in 2022. There are three qualities Pitre looks for in his players to build a top-rushing attack.

"We want physical-minded guys, players that are selfless and have the ability to be good learners," Pitre said.

That last part is important for Pitre, especially. Before he ever coached football he was a fullback at UCLA where Pitre later earned his master's in teaching.

Allgeier pointed to Pitre's teaching background in making the concepts easier to understand and the language and lingo more digestible.

Allgeier started in Atlanta with Pitre in the 2022-23 season taking the rushing production to a new level. Allgeier led the Falcons in rushing with 1,035 yards ranking 14th overall league-wide as one of only two rookies to record over 1,000 yards.

Now, add in a generational prospect like Robinson to mix.

Robinson racked up 3,410 rushing yards at Texas in three seasons (yes, that includes a shortened 2020 season).

In his first training camp, Robinson said he's learned a lot about what it takes to make the jump from college to NFL.

Like any good teacher, Pitre is helping Robinson grow.

"Anytime you get a talented player, it's really easy for them to settle and be comfortable with the talent that they have not realizing that they have more within themselves," Pitre said.

"We want to continue to challenge him to see — can he push himself past a threshold of even what he thinks he's capable of to see what we can unlock in him."

Pitre joked about "coaching the college out" of Robinson by teaching him to set this alignment within more complex professional schemes while respecting the upper-echelon speed of NFL defenses.

After his second joint practice against the Miami Dolphins Robinson noted that he's building confidence by understanding more nuances of the game that he didn't previously know. He's gotten more comfortable reading coverages past the defensive line into the secondary.

Pitre calls it "wild eyes," or disciplined eyes that understand where run leads are.

It's something that Robinson unlocked further against the Dolphins on a route he'd been fine-tuning.

"I just studied it, I read it. I understood the scheme and the assignment, and that's what made that work," Robinson said. "What I want to do is just build that."

Robinson has also learned from his running mate Allgeier. Pitre said the second-year player is embracing his leadership qualities, pushing past his quiet exterior to teach Robinson.

"The part that's been really cool is being able to see him and Bijan work with each other because they have different skill sets, but they both understand what we want to do in that room and on the football team," Pitre said.

The combination of Allgeier and Robinson could keep almost any defense on its toes. Allgeier is a battering-ram-type back that will break tackles to pick up more yards. Robinson is a duel threat that can rack up yards on the ground or in the air.

There's so much to cover without even mentioning Patterson. While Patterson gets a lot of run on special teams as well, he's still a significant part of this rushing group with his veteran experience.

"CP is such a unique individual to be able to have on your football team because there's so many things he can do," Pitre said. "That's going to be an advantage to us because now teams can't just say, 'Hey, this guy lines up in this spot.'"

So, how will the Falcons split the workload between three talented backs? 

Well, think of the Golden State Warriors championship squad. Pitre said whether Steph Curry or Klay Thompson is on fire they feed the hot hand, and so too will the Falcons. 

"A big problem that we have as a football team is we have a lot of really good players on the offensive side," Pitre said. "That's a really good problem for us to have."

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work with the Miami Dolphins during the 2023 AT&T Training Camp.

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