The Atlanta Falcons were predominately a running team starting in 2008, with running back Michael Turner leading the way for the team. In three out of the four years that Turner has been with the Falcons he has rushed the ball over 300 times in a season. The only exception was in 2009 when he missed five games due to an injury. This season Turner’s carries dropped to 222 even though he started in all 16 games.
With the Falcons getting more weapons on the outside, they have transitioned into a passing team led by quarterback Matt Ryan. The changing in the gameplan might also be because of Turner’s production. This season was a far cry from what the running back did in the past. The lowest amount of rushing yards Turner had with the Falcons playing a full season was 1,340 yards. This season Turner was only able to get 800 yards, the first time he did not reach 1,000 yards with the Falcons.
While some of this was due to the lack of carries, some of it was also because of a lack of performance. Turner’s yards per carry dropped from 4.5 in 2011 to 3.6 this season. Turner seemed to have lost a step this year and had trouble breaking the line of scrimmage. The Falcons running game is a power game which fits Turner’s style, but what little speed he had seemed to be gone making it hard for Turner to attack the the middle of the field.
With the emergence of Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield, the Falcons might be going in a new direction at running back in 2013. Rodgers is a better receiving running back and has shown promise running the ball as well. Rodgers may fit better into the new style of offense the Falcons seem to be heading towards. Turner turns 31 this weekend which is usually the age that running backs start to fade out of the league. Don’t be surprised if Turner isn’t in a Falcons uniform at the start of next season.
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