Coach Mike Mularkey‘s methods were particularly insidious. His play calling not only caused talented teams to lose to inferior ones, but it was so obvious that he might as well have handed a script of plays to the opposing defensive coordinator before every game.
In Atlanta, we had an unofficial game called “Michael Turner up the middle.” The rules were obvious — see how often you could correctly predict that the next play would be a swift handoff from Matt Ryan to Turner, who would then run between the tackles.
If you had read my earlier article on Turner, you would know that I am a huge Atlanta Falcons supporter, but I grew tired of Turner; after a few years, I noticed that he never played half as well against good teams as he did against the poor ones. However, this was also the time when Mularkey seemed to be most predictable. Therefore, since my distaste for Mularkey borders on hatred, I would love to blame Turner’s inability to perform in the clutch entirely on Mularkey.
Furthermore, sending him up the middle over and over again against the biggest men in the league, and in such a predictable manner, couldn’t have been good for Turner’s longevity. Last season, and actually beginning late in the 2011 season, Turner couldn’t even convert the short yardage situations anymore, his former specialty. Mularkey was able to wear out a bruising running back in less than four years as a feature back. Now, that takes talent!
The one thing Turner was consistently excellent at was pass protection. That is why I assert that the Falcons should have kept him as a starting right guard. However, he seems to have the personality that would contract Tim Tebow-itis and insist on playing his position. So, I wish Tebow and Turner the best as they become the opening act for Gene Simmons and the LA Kiss Arena Football team.