Do the Falcons have a Devonta Freeman problem?

Getty Images

When we had the opportunity last month to have a 70-minute conversation with Falcons G.M. Thomas Dimitroff (the video is embedded in this item), one of the areas of inquiry focused on the presence of players on the roster who may have a hard time getting over the devastating manner in which Super Bowl LI ended. Dimitroff expressed confidence that they’ll have no issues in this regard.

He may want to now revisit that.

The recent appearance by running back Devonta Freeman on SiriusXM NFL Radio, some of which was chronicled a day ago in this spot, contains clear traces of Marshawn Lynch, post-Super Bowl XLIX.

Said Lynch on (where else?) Turkish TV in the aftermath of the Seattle loss to New England fueled by a fateful decision to throw a pass at the goal line: “To be honest with you, I would be a liar if I didn’t tell you that I was expecting the ball. I think it was more of a — how do I say this?  When you look at me, and you let me run that ball in, I’m the face of the nation.  You know, the MVP of the Super Bowl, that’s pretty much the face of the nation at that point in time.  I don’t know what went into that call.  Maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t get the ball.  I mean, you know, it cost us the Super Bowl.”

Said Freeman on SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier this week regarding not only the decisions to pass and not run while in field goal range and leading by eight points late but also his curious second-half disappearance from the running game, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “I hate to go there but I was supposed to be the MVP this year of the Super Bowl, but it’s all good, we got another shot. . . . I don’t want to make this no competition thing with me and my quarterback. I’m just talking about from based off that game. Let’s [say] it like this: if I would have kept getting the ball, if I would have stayed in the game, I don’t know why I got out of the game actually. But if I would have stayed in the game, I would have got MVP. I’m looking at my stats and I see my numbers didn’t lie. Look at my numbers.”

Freeman had six carries for 71 yards in the first half of Super Bowl LI. In the second half, he had five carries for four yards.

Making Freeman’s remarks even more stunning was that they came in the wake of quarterback Matt Ryan declaring that the team has put Super Bowl LI behind it.

“When we started as a team in April, we got together before that as players down in Miami,” Ryan said. “It was time to move on. It was time to look forward. Anytime that we kind of dwell on that is wasted time. We have to focus on trying to become the best football team that this group can be.”

Freeman clearly hasn’t moved on. At a time when Freeman is clamoring for a new contract, it’s hard not to wonder whether the Falcons will move on from him.

If nothing else, Freeman’s comments are a sign that, despite the proclamations of Ryan and others in the organization about everything being OK, someone needs to have a candid conversation with Freeman regarding his current attitudes and beliefs, and whether those attitudes and beliefs will impact the team in a negative way in 2017 or beyond.

47 responses to “Do the Falcons have a Devonta Freeman problem?

  1. Maybe if he managed more than 4 yards on those five carries he’d have gotten a few more. I think he’s trying to deflect attention away from his missed assignment on the pivotal Hightower strip sack.

  2. Is he going to forget that he totally whiff on the chip block on Pats LB Hightower, that led to QB Ryan getting sacked and fumbling tbe ball. RB Freeman is soo full of it. Atlanta should move him, he is not elite.

  3. There was absolutely no chance of Freeman winning the Super Bowl MVP in that game. Apart from whiffing on the block that created the Hightower turnover that completely changed the momentum in the game, the Patriots had already made adjustments to neutralize the Falcon’s run game. Right after the Julio toe-tap catch, they ran the ball with Freeman for -1 yard. That’s why they chose to throw on the next down (which resulted in a sack, then a holding penalty, incomplete pass, punt).

    If the Falcons had won the MVP would have most likely been Ryan, followed by Alford for his pick 6 and Jarrett for his three sacks.

  4. So we’re going to jettison important skill players from teams the second they complain about not getting the ball more? Goodbye half of the NFL.

  5. Job well done Devonta . You just proudly announced you don’t give a damn about the team . Easy to see why Atlanta blew the SB with a key player selfish enough to be more worried about winning the MVP then the game .

  6. And Seattle is still crying.

    Hey Lynch they didn’t give you the ball because they gave it to you on 4th and 1 five times earlier in that season and you got the first down a grand total of once.

    That 20% success rate was so beastly lol. Far fro a guarantee that you would have gotten the TD

  7. Maybe if he managed more than 4 yards on those five carries he’d have gotten a few more. I think he’s trying to deflect attention away from his missed assignment on the pivotal Hightower strip sack.
    ——————————————————–

    He definitely screwed up, but you have to ask why going for a play like that when the score was where it was. The coaching staff puked on themselves, not only did they screw that up but they had other opportunities to use the clock as their friend and the refused to. Which would have solved two issues, their defense was gassed so let them get a breath, and left less time for the Patriots to actually come back. Doesn’t take away he missed his assignment, but he shouldn’t have been put in that spot in the first place.

  8. Talk about twisting a comment to satisfy a silly narrative! He was lamenting losing the SB… big deal. No parallels can be drawn between the Seahawks of a few years ago and the current Falcons. It’s just nonsense.

  9. Really? He’s discussing his lost MVP more than the lost game.

    Wow, what a me me player!

  10. icebergsimpson says:

    How can you ever bounceback from a historic collapse???
    ————-

    2014 San Antonio Spurs
    NE Patriots after 18-1

  11. 3rdngoal says:

    The coaching staff puked on themselves, not only did they screw that up but they had other opportunities to use the clock as their friend and the refused to. Which would have solved two issues, their defense was gassed so let them get a breath, and left less time for the Patriots to actually come back.
    ——————-

    The Falcons were still ahead by 8. They needed 1st downs to keep the clock moving and the run game was nonexistent in second half (9 for 18 yrds). I think Matt Ryans was something like 16 for 20 at that point and each completion kept the clock moving. OC had no choice.

    Two guys I blame the most are Freeman for missing block and Matthews on the holding.

  12. Lynch was horrible at the 1 yd line. As someone pointed out, he was 1-for-5 that year with two runs LOSING yards.

    He was ranked 30th out of 39 RBs at punching it in from the 1yd line over the previous 5 years – just couldn’t get it done. A Beast in the open field though against smaller LBs and CBs.

  13. Sounds a lot like: “If coach woulda put me in in the 4th quarter we woulda won state!”

  14. I hope they let him walk after reading this. Coleman is pretty darn good himself and it shouldn’t be too hard to find a second decent running back to spell him on occasion.

  15. The Falcons can claim they’ve put that Super Bowl behind them, but they only way they’ll ever convince anyone of that is for them to go out and win the Super Bowl this year….against the Patriots.

    Even if they did that, this past Super Bowl will haunt them. Go watch America’s Game for the 1970 Baltimore Colts. Mike Curtis, Bubba Smith and Bill Curry were all brutally honest about their feelings, and the haunting effect of losing Super Bowl III, despite winning it just two years later.

  16. The key part of the quote is where he says he doesn’t know why he was taken out of the game. Until that is answered, this will fester. And most of the coaches involved have left so it may never be answered.

  17. “akira1971 says:
    Jun 22, 2017 9:10 AM
    Lynch was horrible at the 1 yd line. As someone pointed out, he was 1-for-5 that year with two runs LOSING yards.

    He was ranked 30th out of 39 RBs at punching it in from the 1yd line over the previous 5 years – just couldn’t get it done. A Beast in the open field though against smaller LBs and CBs.”

    Stats can also be circumstantial. This wasn’t just any average 1yard run. First it was the end superbowl, second the Patriots were tired, we know this because Lynch just had a nice run in that got them to first and goal and had nothing but moment, and the Seahawks were in the hurry up. It was a dumb playcall, you go with the hand that’s hot.

  18. I agree with Lynch’s comment. If he runs the ball in he has 100+ yards, 31 receiving yards and 2 TDs and would be MVP. If Wilson completes that pass he has 250+ yards passing and 3 TDs, he is the MVP. As it was, a bad play call and excellent execution by Malcolm Butler and we end up with Brady with his 320+ yards and 4 TD passes as MVP.

  19. That historic ATL collapse in the Super Bowl was a team effort. From poor play calling by the coaching staff to poor run blocking in the 2nd half, missed blocking assignments, and inability to slow down the Patriots once their offense got in rhythm in the 4th quarter and OT. Brady just sliced and diced the pass defense for a record setting number of yards. It’s Freeman’s fault. It’s Shannahan’s fault. Dan Quinn’s fault for not rotating his gassed defense. Its Ryan’s fault for taking an avoidable sack on that 2nd down play in field goal range. The QB, RB’s, WR’s, OL, DL, LB’s, DB’s… everyone lost that game.

  20. Considering even Matt Ryan was yelling to Shanahan to run the ball, Freeman has a point about not letting him run. Even if he had run for -1 yard, they still would have been in FG range. As far as MVP goes, I don’t think it would have been his, I had Grady Jarrett as MVP for sure.

  21. A whole lot of “I’s and me’s” in those statements. Sorry that the MVP was stolen from you and Marshawn, maybe if you focused on winning the game instead of an award it would have been different.

    Oh, and the best time to throw the ball is when everyone and their mother think you’re going to run the ball, that’s pretty basic football.

    I’ll bet if both Marshawn and Devonta got to run the ball and were stopped you all would have been screaming that they should have thrown it.

  22. I’d take Freeman as my team’s starting HB in a second.

    That said, his second half disappearance may be a product of too many weapons on Atlanta. The pecking order goes: Julio, Julio, Julio, then everyone else. Since the Pats did a good job of limiting Julio, next in line was Coleman, Sanu, Gabriel (all just as deserving as Freeman).

    It didn’t help either that Freeman went backwards on a few runs in the second half, but once Coleman went down with an injury, common sense said Freeman would get the ball more. I’m sure if Shanahan could re-do the 4th quarter, he would have forced the run a little more.

  23. The moment I heard him say all of this on NFL radio I starting counting down the seconds until it would be seized upon by the sports media. But it was a delayed reaction: not until Ledbetter at the Atlanta Journal blogged on it a day later did the inevitable viral process start. Amazing how much the national media relies on the local beat reporters these days.

  24. They could have thrown Freeman more passes too. He had that long reception in the 4th…

  25. silvernblacksabbath says:
    Jun 22, 2017 1:44 PM
    They could have thrown Freeman more passes too. He had that long reception in the 4th…

    0 0
    Report comment

    —————-

    That was a busted coverage. The fact is, the Pats D completely isolated the Falcons run game, which then compromised how effective Ryan could be.

  26. The fact is, the Pats D completely isolated the Falcons run game, which then compromised how effective Ryan could be.
    ———–
    Facts are that Alex Mack (C) played the entire game with a broken leg and he couldn’t run block well in the 2nd half. RT Schraeder was injured and out in the 3rd qtr as well. Combine that with the aging RG Chris Chester being the weakest link all season and Coleman out injured too, running the ball was next to impossible on its own. NOT taking anything away from the Pats at all, they kept grinding when down big, but the Falcons were 1 dimensional due to injuries and that plays straight into BBs more than capable hands.

  27. akira1971 says:
    Jun 22, 2017 8:58 AM

    icebergsimpson says:

    How can you ever bounceback from a historic collapse???
    ————-

    2014 San Antonio Spurs
    NE Patriots after 18-1
    _________________

    2017 Golden State Warriors

  28. The Falcons were still ahead by 8. They needed 1st downs to keep the clock moving and the run game was nonexistent in second half (9 for 18 yrds). I think Matt Ryans was something like 16 for 20 at that point and each completion kept the clock moving. OC had no choice.

    Two guys I blame the most are Freeman for missing block and Matthews on the holding.

    ——————————————————-
    I’m not sure if you noticed but you can effectively run the ball with running backs out of the backfield. Something the Falcons did successfully in the super bowl. Going for a home run up by double digits in the Super Bowl in your own end of the field is coaching, not players.

  29. Maybe if the Falcons defense don’t come back from half time laying off on Brady the entire HALF, they would have won the game. I am still pissed. I just don’t understand why they stop pressuring Brady. Turned me off so much! yeah I know, Atlanta didn’t purposely through the game, the NFL believes in honesty through out every game.

  30. happywalkhappydog says:
    Jun 22, 2017 10:17 PM
    Maybe if the Falcons defense don’t come back from half time laying off on Brady the entire HALF, they would have won the game. I am still pissed. I just don’t understand why they stop pressuring Brady. Turned me off so much! yeah I know, Atlanta didn’t purposely through the game, the NFL believes in honesty through out every game.
    _____________________________
    They stopped pressuring b/c the Pats adjusted and the Falcons just got more and more tired as the game wore on. The Falcons offense went 1-8 on 3rd downs on 11 drives in the game while they only averaged 4.1 plays per drive. The high flying Falcons offense only scored 21 points in the game and the time of possession was 40.5 to 23.5 in favor of the Pats. The Falcons tried to win the game in the 1st half the way they came out flying on both sides of the ball which is never a good strategy.

Leave a Reply