Atlanta Falcons: How Todd Gurley will impact the offense

With Todd Gurley deciding to sign with the Atlanta Falcons in free agency, let’s dive into how the running back will positively impact the offense in 2020.

There will be a new starting running back in the backfield for the Atlanta Falcons in the 2020 season as Todd Gurley makes his way back to Georgia. Less than a week after cutting Devonta Freeman after six seasons, the Falcons have signed the former Rams ball-carrier to a one-year deal after the 25-year-old was released on Thursday.

Adding Gurley, a three-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro running back who was also named Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 and Offensive Player of the Year in 2017, is an intriguing addition to an already potent offense in Atlanta.

The addition of a top-notch running game to pair alongside the dominant passing attack the Falcons contain alongside quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley and newly acquired tight end target Hayden Hurst could possibly make Atlanta’s offense one of the most-feared units in the entire NFL.

If Gurley is able to return to form of what he showed in the early stages of his professional career, he will undoubtedly provide a boost to the Falcons offense and their running game in 2020. It was a signing that is definitely worth exploring, considering Gurley has been viewed as one of the top backs in the NFL since he broke into the league in 2015.

In 2019, Gurley wrapped up his fifth season in the NFL and with Rams after he was selected out of Georgia with the No. 10 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. In 15 regular-season appearances last year, the young running back finished with 857 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 223 carries, also hauling in 207 receiving yards with 31 catches and two touchdowns.

His best season to date came in 2017 in Los Angeles when he finished with career-best marks of 1,305 rushing yards and 788 receiving yards.

One initial thing Gurley will bring back to Georgia with him and will incorporate into Atlanta’s offense is his ability to hurt opposing defenses both in the passing game and on the ground in the running game. That will provide Ryan and company with another target in the passing attack, while also providing the Falcons with a dominant rusher out of the backfield.

The other aspect that is positive when it comes to Gurley is his ability to stay healthy and on the field during the season, something that didn’t really occur too often with Freeman in Atlanta. Since 2015, Gurley has averaged 14.6 appearances a year, playing in all 16 games during the 2016 campaign. During that same span, Freeman averaged 12.2 regular-season appearances, also managing to play in all 16 games just once in 2016.

During the 2019 season, Atlanta averaged just 85.1 rushing yards per game, which ranked third-lowest among teams in the NFL. That was in part due to Atlanta’s ability to pass the ball, but was still an area of concern during the course fo the year.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, averaged 93.7 rushing yards per game, which ranked 26th in the league. But during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, the Rams ranked in the top 10 in rushing yards per game during the regular-season schedule.

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It’s not common to find a rare talent such as Gurley available on the free-agent market, and the Falcons taking a chance on the young running back will definitely be worth it, even if he doesn’t live completely up to the hype in Atlanta in 2020.

The Falcons are ultimately hoping Gurley’s return back to Georgia will once again light a spark in his career both this season and possibly beyond.

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