Falcons coach Raheem Morris: ‘Get the ball to Bijan (Robinson) as much as you can’

Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) works through traffic and scores a touchdown during the first half of a NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023.  (Bob Andres for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

Atlanta Falcons running back Bijan Robinson (7) works through traffic and scores a touchdown during the first half of a NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023. (Bob Andres for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons running back Bijan Robinson, the rare back whose talent warranted him becoming a top-10 NFL draft pick 14 months ago, recently made headlines when he said new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson will deploy him similarly to how the 49ers use All-Pro Christian McCaffrey.

“I’m going to be more of a runner that does everything else,” Robinson said eight days ago. “... It’s like run first, like I did in college, and then still have access to go to receiver. Still have access to do creative things out of the backfield. More so, like how they use Christian down there in San Francisco. Something like that. That is kind of what the plan is here.”

During mandatory minicamp Tuesday, Falcons coach Raheem Morris was asked about Robinson’s use.

“In the simplest form as you can possibly make it: Get the ball to Bijan as much as you can, in as many ideal situations as you possibly can,” Morris said. “For him, he’s so talented, you don’t want to limit the things he can do. But you also don’t want to water it down so much that he’s not doing anything he can do great.

“When he gets the ball in his hands, he makes people miss. He gets extra yards. He’s able to fight for extra yards. He breaks tackles. He’s fast. He’s explosive. He’s strong. He can do so many things you can get overwhelmed sometimes, maybe, as a play-caller or designer.

“But for him, I think he enjoys the whole process. I think he compared himself to that Christian McCaffrey role, and if we can get anywhere near the great player that Christian McCaffrey is, I think we’ll all be pretty excited.”

Morris welcomes Robinson comparing himself with McCaffrey, the consensus best overall running back, in any light: “There’s something about that youthful arrogance that excites me. I absolutely love that.”

Few running backs can come close to McCaffrey’s ability, but this is one of them. If the Falcons are going to return to the playoffs, Robinson needs to be a focal point – perhaps the focal point – of this new-look offense.

Robinson had a productive rookie season in 2023, running for 976 yards and four touchdowns while adding another 487 yards and four scores as a receiver. But former coach Arthur Smith and the team were criticized for how Robinson was used (or not used), especially given what the team invested in him.

Splitting duties with second-year runner Tyler Allgeier, Robinson finished 15th in the NFL in rushing yards on 214 carries (which ranked as the third-fewest attempts among the top 15 rushers). Allgeier carried the ball 186 times, producing 3.7 yards per rush (39th overall) compared with Robinson’s 4.6 (13th overall).

Certainly, there’s a place for a punishing runner like Allgeier, but Robinson is a blue-chip talent. The day after Robinson was drafted, his college coach Steve Sarkisian (Texas) told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Robinson was a blend of Barry Sanders and Reggie Bush.

About the Author

Editors' Picks