Antone Smith broke his leg in the November 16 game in Charlotte to end his impressive season. It was an interruption of another case-making campaign for a running back that no one seems to want to play.
Why wasn't Antone Smith given more chances to run the ball? The previous coaching staff simply would not give him the opportunity to prove if he was more than just a spare part on the offense.
But Smith certainly did make a case to get his hands on the ball more, and despite former coach Mike Smith saying he was going to play Smith more, he didn't.
Smith had 144 rushing yards on 23 carries (6.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns on the ground, with 13 receptions for 222 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
Smith had a flare for long touchdowns. It started on November 17, 2013 against Tampa Bay, as Smith had a 50-yard touchdown run in that game. He then had a 38-yard touchdown run against Buffalo on December 1. Then last season, Smith opened the regular season with a 54-yard touchdown run against the Saints. He had a 38-yard touchdown run in week three against the Bucs. In Minnesota Smith had a 48-yard touchdown run. Then against the Giants, Smith had a 74-yard touchdown.
So in that 11-game stretch, Smith had 15 rushes for 238 yards (15.8 yards per carry) and four touchdowns, with eight catches for 166 yards (20.75 yards per catch) and two touchdowns. That’s a total of 23 touches for 424 yards and six touchdowns (18.4 yards per touch), with 302 of those 424 yards coming on the six touchdowns.
But why didn't the Falcons play Smith more? Was it coach Smith, or did offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter just not believe in Smith?
Either way, a new coaching staff is now in place. They will evaluate Smith's physical condition first before deciding whether to resign Smith, who can become an unrestricted free agent on March 7.
There may be a team that pinpoints Smith as a sleeper, a player that could be had for a cheaper price and may turn out to be a bargain. Again, his health is a big factor. How has he recovered from the broken leg?
The Falcons obviously need to improve the running game, but is Smith the answer? He could probably be resigned for a decent price considering his injury, but will the Falcons simply prefer to move on to someone else instead of having Smith on the roster?
There will likely be some curiousity on the part of the new coaching staff about Smith, but will there be enough to offer him a new contract?
Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at email@example.com.
Should the Falcons resign Antone Smith?
Falcon Insider Top Stories
Grading the Atlanta Falcons' Free AgencyJorge Andres and CBS Sports NFL writer Will Brinson are giving out Free Agency grades. How did the Atlanta Falcons do?
Falcon InsiderThursday at 5:04 AM
NFL Free Agency Update: Atlanta FalconsJon Beason thinks this Atlanta Falcon will be the happiest about the Dontari Poe signing
Atlanta Falcons Sign Dontari PoeThe Atlanta Falcons look to improve their defense and they're bringing in big Dontari Poe on a one-year deal.
Free agency update: Atlanta FalconsPete Prisco joins Jorge Andres to break down the latest on the Atlanta Falcons in the Free Agent Market.
NFL Scouting Combine ListThe NFL on Wednesday released the list of 330 players who will run, test and interview at the Scouting Combine.