Why is Devonta Freeman the starter and Tevin Coleman the backup? Two pairs of runs tell the story.
Coleman is a stronger and faster player. When he earns big gains, the runs are often more exciting because they are displays of his superior strength and long speed. They also require more physical labor that’s unnecessary.
Freeman is a more advanced decision maker with better footwork that sets up what his offensive line is giving to him. Two pairs of plays in this 10-minute video highlight the differences.
Apologies in advance for the audio and video quality, this is a one-take, 10-minute instruction session on the fly.
Coleman entered the league as a boom-bust prospect who generated scintillating big plays but lacked the refined footwork and skill at executing natural cutback opportunities within a zone scheme. It’s why I describe him as a “boom-bust” runner. He fails to deliver consistent production that moves the chains under more difficult conditions compared to Freeman.
If Coleman can learn to slow and shorten his stride past the exchange and develop more confidence in tighter creases that yield better one-on-one opportunities when he hits them, he’ll earn more yards with less work and reduce his inefficiency on a carry-by-carry basis.
Note: My friend and colleague Jene Bramel questioned the scheme for the first Coleman run shown. He wondered if it was an ISO with the lead fullback. I considered that thought when first viewing the play but it’s clear that Sanu’s backside block is designed to work with the tight end to create a back side crease. As a result, I believe this play to be more of a zone concept than a man concept.