Michael Turner began the 2012 NFL season similar to the way he ended it as he rushed for 30 yards in the season opener and ran for 32 in the NFC Championship game on Sunday. The soon to be 31-year-old back was less than stellar all season as he rushed for 800 yards on 176 carries which is his lowest rushing total since becoming an Atlanta Falcon in 2008.
After a 98 yard performance versus the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisional Round, I had confidence that Turner would be a game-changer versus the San Francisco 49ers. I was solely mistaken as the Falcons backs were held to 81 yards on the ground. With the home crowd at their disposal I figured the Falcons would capitalize with a commitment to the run however, after 5 carries in the first quarter for 18 yards Turner and the run became less important.
To be fair Turner’s last rush came with 10:47 left in the third quarter as a right ankle injury shoved him to the sideline for the remainder of the game. Jacquizz Rodgers was his replacement and didn’t do much better with just 10 rushes and 32 yards.
In Dirk Koetter’s first year as the Falcons offensive coordinator he made it clear that Turner is not the back he used to be as his carries were cut from 301 to 222. This is a sizable drop considering it is the lowest in his tenure with the team aside from his 11 game season in 2009 where he had 178 attempts.
Turner is set to make $5.5M if the Falcons return him in 2013, I would be extremely surprised if Turner isn’t cut for salary purposes the off-season.