Was Freeman slighted by former standout RB?

The Midday Show w/ Andy & Randy
June 20, 2019 - 1:26 pm

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Former NFL running back Maurice Jones-Drew put together his rankings of each of the 32 teams RB1s heading into the 2019 NFL season. But did he slight Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman?

Freeman missed the majority of the 2018 season after undergoing hernia surgery following Week 6's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

The Falcons finished 27th last season in rushing averaging 98.3 yards per game. You could point to Freeman's absence being the difference.

So why did Jones-Drew rank Freeman the 29th best RB1 heading into this season? Here's what he said:

There are a few things to point out here. Freeman was sidelined for 14 games last season with knee, foot and groin injuries (he missed a total of three games in the previous four seasons). That said, Freeman was one of the most productive backs in the league in the three seasons leading up to his injury-riddled 2018, ranking fourth in rushing yards (3,000) and tied for first in rushing TDs (29) from 2015 to '17. He's fully capable of once again becoming the player who helped the Falcons reach Super BowlLI, but you just don't know how somebody will recover from injuries. 

However, I'm concerned that the return of Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator, who held the same post for Atlanta from 2012 to '14, doesn't bode well for Freeman getting back to producing at such a high level. Over the last seven seasons -- Koetter's been either an OC or head coach in each -- he's had a running back surpass the 1,000-yard mark only once ( Doug Martin in 2015).

"Freeman is not the 29th-best running back in the NFL," Andy Bunker said, annoyed at the list.

"I know that, and Maurice Jones-Drew knows that," Randy McMichael added. "But he's basing off the performance of last year. When he's right, Devonta Freeman is top six back in the league...but he wasn't right last year."