The Atlanta Falcons were one of five underdogs to win Sunday, thanks in no small part to a breakthrough performance from a big underdog story. Rookie running back Tyler Allgeier was absolutely punishing against the Cleveland Browns, leading the Falcons with 84 yards on 10 carries.
Is Allgeier the next out-of-nowhere star in the NFL? Or is he just the latest in a long line of one-week wonders? We explore it all as we award Pro Football Network’s NFL Breakthrough Player of Week 4.
Tyler Allgeier Is PFN’s Breakthrough Player of Week 4
Unless you’re a Falcons fan, a draft super-enthusiast, or simply watch a ton of late-night college football, you can be forgiven if this is the first time you’ve heard of Allgeier. But there can be no excuse going forward, not after he and teammate Caleb Huntley ran all over the Browns in the second half Sunday.
Atlanta collectively went for 172 yards on 25 carries in the second half alone, with Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone calling 14 straight running plays at one point — including all 10 plays of the team’s lone second-half touchdown drive. The Falcons rallied to win despite quarterback Marcus Mariota throwing just three passes in the fourth quarter.
“When the line’s running like that, that’s what you call being in a flow,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “Proud of those guys. We knew it was going to be a big-boy fight. Seeing all the run attempts, I always thought the team that ran the ball better was going to win, and that held true, thankfully.”
Added Allgeier: “We all just strapped up our helmets and just went to work. I think their defensive line wasn’t ready for what we were ready to give them, so we ended up just pounding the rock at the end.”
Allgeier has gone from not playing in Week 1 to being the Falcons’ RB1 in Week 4. Granted, that’s been due in large part to injuries. (More on that later.) But it’s not the only reason.
Allgeier has earned that playing time, and made the most of it, ranking second behind only Dameon Pierce among rookies in rushing yards per game (46.3).
Who Is Tyler Allgeier?
That production is even more impressive when you consider Allgeier was the 12th running back — and 151st player overall — taken in the 2022 NFL Draft.
But his history of overachieving far predates his time in the league. Allgeier was barely a blip on the recruiting radar coming out of Kaiser (Fontana, Calif.) High School. And early during his time at BYU, Cougars coaches didn’t even know his best position.
Allgeier was a two-way player as recently as 2019, getting snaps at both running back and linebacker. But once BYU plugged him in as the team’s RB1, he excelled.
In his last two years in Provo, Allgeier rushed for 2,731 yards and 36 touchdowns on 426 carries. His 23 rushing touchdowns led the nation in 2021.
That breakthrough convinced Allgeier to forgo his final two years of eligibility and make the jump to the NFL. So far, that decision has paid off.
Allgeier’s Outlook for Rest of 2022 Season
It will be interesting to see how Smith and his staff handle their RB rotation once the unit is back at full strength. Allgeier’s ascent has coincided with Damien Williams’ injury. Williams hurt his ribs in Week 1 and is out for at least one more game.
The original plan was for Williams and Cordarrelle Patterson to share carries. But that plan might need revision. (Patterson played through a knee injury Sunday, but it limited him to just 16 snaps.)
At the very least, Allgeier has earned a spot on the active game-day roster — which is an improvement over how his year started. Expect a by-committee approach the rest of the way — and, now that the blueprint has proven to work, a ton of called runs.
“I thought we all fed off each other,” Allgeier said. “That’s the biggest thing. Obviously, everyone wants to touch the rock, everyone wants to score, but I think the group collective, as long as we got that Dub — and we did — and we rushed for 200-plus yards or whatever, that’s a big thing in our room.”