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Ito Smith is primed for some big weeks for Atlanta


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Ito Smith is primed for some big weeks for Atlanta

The rookie running back has shown genuine talent, and his life might get easier soon.

By Dave Choate Oct 19, 2018, 8:00am EDT
1043811966.jpg.0.jpgPhoto by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Ito Smith isn’t the flashiest rookie running back, or necessarily the best. Yet he’s shown tremendous value for the Atlanta Falcons already as a fourth rounder, and the best is yet to come.

Why do I sound so confident about that? Here’s why.

The #NextGenStats for Ito Smith paint an extremely promising picture. Smith currently ranks as the 6th-most elusive RB based on a stat called Yards Gained After Close. Meanwhile Tevin Coleman ranks as the 3rd worst in this metric. #Falcons #InBrotherhood (thread)

Before you roll your eyes to the heavens at another new stat you haven’t seen before, let’s just consider the implications of this thread. You should read it in full, because what it implies is that Ito Smith has been astonishingly unlucky in terms of his blocking up front, while Coleman has been less unlucky.

This jibes with what we see with our eyes, which is that neither back is getting the blocking they need to excel. Watching Smith on runs where he does have room to operate, you can see how physical and shifty he can be, as was the case for his first score of the year. It’s worth noting that Smith had a nose for the end zone in college, too, as he once scored in 15 straight games.

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Ito Smith's first career touchdown. Matthews & Levitre hit the down blocks, which leads to Fusco pulling for the kick out. Paulsen continues to shine as a run blocker. Nice patience and vision from Smith to finish off the drive. Red zone success.

Smith is not Devonta Freeman, but the highest praise I can give him is that he shows the kind of all-around game and vision that impressed me so much when I saw Freeman in training camp as a rookie. If he’s done this well without the line blocking effectively for him, and against some solid run defenses, he should be in store for better the rest of the way. It’s not like the Falcons will hesitate to use him.

The Falcons can find all sorts of smart, useful ways to use Tevin Coleman, who is and will remain a stellar weapon for this offense. With Smith, though, it’s as simple as blocking better for him and letting him run like we all know he can.

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23 hours ago, The Falcon Jedi Knight said:

I really really like Ito. He has made some great runs. He is shifty and elusive. I just worry about his size and the toll his body takes. We need to get him more involved in the screen passing game. Get him out in space.

Only after the Falcons can figure out how to set up a screen in the first place.  Every time they try one it looks like a Benny Hill skit.

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On 10/19/2018 at 9:46 AM, since68andcounting said:

I'll say this. He doesn't yet look better than Freeman in his prime. But he looks better that Freeman did as a rookie. And I'm a HUGE Free fan.

To be fair, we were running a man blocking scheme in Freeman’s rookie year, not the zone scheme that he is tailor made for. If we went back to power, I think you’d see that same Devonta Freeman that was a rookie. I’m still excited for Ito Smith. 

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Like I said in preseason, Ito has brimming talent, with great vision, balance, low to the ground running in his cuts, great hands and fluidity of a wide receiver in passing game. But his biggest gift is making people miss.

Just wait until we get him more involved in passing game.

I believe before too long he will be at or near top in NFL in receiving backs in explosive plays that started as a short pass, where he jukes a defender or two and blows past everyone for long gains and TDs.

 

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