Falcons’ 2022 season review: running backs

Editor’s note: This is the first of an eight-part, position-by-position series analyzing the Falcons’ 2022 season. Today: The running backs

FLOWERY BRANCH — The season started with Tyler Allgeier on the inactive list and ended with him setting a Falcons rookie rushing record.

Allgeier, selected in the fifth round (151st) of the NFL draft out of BYU, was eased into things, but he ended up rushing 210 times for 1,035 yards and three touchdowns.

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“It’s, for sure, an achievement,” Allgeier said. “It’s a good starting point, starting point for me. I think for the offense as well, having a 1,000-yard rusher, it’s just a really good starting point for me and all the guys.”

He broke the 43-year-old mark of William Andrews, who rushed for 1,023 yards in 1979.

The Falcons rushed for 159.9 yards per game, which ranked third in the NFL.

Allgeier took over the load from Cordarrelle Patterson, who got off to a fast start before he was sidelined with a knee injury that led to a stint on short-term injured reserve.

Allgeier rushed 10 times for 84 yards to help the Falcons defeat the Browns 23-20 on Oct. 2, and he made his first start the following week against Tampa Bay.

Allgeier ran with power and rushed for a season-high 139 yards in the 21-18 loss to the Saints on Dec. 18. He closed the season Jan. 8 with a strong showing against Tampa Bay, rushing a season-high 24 times for 135 yards.

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A closer look at Allgeier’s advanced stats reveals that he rushed for 53 first downs. He gained 609 yards before contact and 426 yards after contact. He averaged 2.0 yards per attempt after contact, and he broke five tackles.

As the season went on, Allgeier became more patient as he attacked defenses.

“It was a product of time, experience and confidence,” Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone said. “Going out there and continuing to do it. Realizing that every time he steps on the field he has the chance to improve.”

Allgeier didn’t get down after he was inactive for the season opener.

“I love his mindset,” Ragone said. “I don’t see any reason why he will not continue to improve.”

Allgeier looked back on his inactive status with fondness.

“I think it’s just a lot of learning, taking it game by game, play by play, and just getting better and progressing,” Allgeier said. “I think that’s a big one.”

Allgeier was awarded a game ball after the regular-season finale, a 30-17 win over the Buccaneers.

“A little hard work, but that is not only for me, it’s for the whole offense, for real,” Allgeier said. “I think from the line, to the tight ends, to the receivers as well. I can’t do what I do without them blocking their tails off for me, opening lots of holes up for me.”

Also, Caleb Huntley played a key role in the rushing attack before he sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon in the loss to the Saints in December. He rushed 76 times for 366 yards (4.8 yards per carry) and a touchdown.

The Falcons also are high on converted defensive back Avery Williams, who rushed 22 times for 109 yards and a touchdown.

Running back B.J. Baylor was on the practice squad and was signed to a reserve/futures deal for 2023.

The Falcons expect Allgeier to improve.

“For us, it’s about the maturation process of the player,” Ragone said. “It’s just not the physical. It’s the ability for them, day in, day out – it is a grind – for a young guy who comes in. It’s a grind for older players.”

The Falcons started training camp in July, and things ran through the first week of January.

“So, with us, for the players, it’s making sure they understand that once you feel a certain level of resistance, either physically or mentally, there is a push-through,” Ragone said. “Once you get through that, you’re just essentially building your stamina.”

Allgeier built his stamina and finished the season stronger than he started it.

Falcons’ position-by-position analysis:

Part 1: Running backs

Part 2: Quarterbacks

Part 3: Wide receivers/tight ends

Part 4: Offensive line

Part 5: Defensive line

Part 6: Linebackers

Part 7: Defensive backs

Part 8: Special teams

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