Sep 26, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman (26) carries the ball away from New Orleans Saints defensive back Roman Harper (41) in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Craig Robertson and Dannell Ellerbe vs. “Double Trouble” — Falcons RB’s Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman
The dynamic duo of Atlanta running backs looked like future Hall of Fame players against New Orleans in Week #3.
Freeman had 152 yards on only 14 rush attempts, and added 55 more yards and a touchdown on 5 receptions. Coleman took up residence in the Saints end zone during the game, with 3 rushing touchdowns to go with his 42 rushing yards and 47 yards receiving.
Freeman is the Falcons leading rusher, with 983 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year, and their third leading receiver with 49 receptions. Coleman has proven to be one of the league’s best back-up / #2 RB’s with 476 yards rushing and 406 through the air along with 10 scores.
The primary job of containing these two dynamic backs fall to Saints linebackers Craig Robertson and Dannell Ellerbe.
Ellerbe did not play in the first meeting between the two teams, and his presence in the Saints lineup has been instrumental in the New Orleans defense allowing almost 8 points per game less than they were over the season’s first half.
Robertson’s move to the middle linebacker spot has seen the defense get faster, and solidify their mid range pass coverage. The Saints run defense is also greatly improved since the Week #3 meeting, allowing under 100 yards per game — but these two Falcons backs have proven that they are as dangerous in the passing game as any backs in the league.
New Orleans is a far better defensive unit than the prior meeting, even with the mountain of injuries that they’ve suffered. However, if the Saints 31st ranked pass defense is unable to contain Freeman, Jones, and Coleman, then once again any hope for a new Orleans victory will fall to Drew Brees and the Saints offense.
Which leads us to our next match up…