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 Post subject: Oh no you didn't!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:24 am 
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Atlanta Falcons: Turner not ready for drastic cut in carries
August 5, 2012,
by D. Orlando Ledbetter

FLOWERY BRANCH – Falcons running back Michael Turner is fine with his carries being mildly reduced in 2012.

But if there is a drastic cut from his average of 20.1 carries a game over the last four seasons to say, 10 carries a game, he’ll have a major objection with the new offense that’s being installed in training camp.

“I’ll just see what happens,” Turner said. “Ten carries a game, I don’t think I’ll be that effective like that. But you know, I’m going to make the most of my opportunities like I always have.”

The Falcons would like to spread more of the running back carries around to second-year man Jacquizz Rodgers and dependable utility back Jason Snelling, who’s a great pass catcher out of the backfield.

Under former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, the offense revolved around Turner’s bruising runs as he averaged 20.1 carries a game in 59 regular-season games.

He led the league in carries in two of the past four seasons and was second in the league with 301 carries last season. His led the league in carries with 376 in 2008 and 334 in 2010.

“We’ll see,” Turner said about his pending reduction. “It always goes with the flow of the game. You can’t even say that we are going to go out here and throw the ball 50 times or run the ball 30 to 40 times. It all goes with situations. We play situational football.”

Just a little over a week into training camp, the Falcons have spent more time on their passing attack. In one recent 18-play session, they threw 12 passes and had six run plays. In another 18-play session, they threw 13 passes and had five run plays.

“I think my work load has been the same,” Turner said. “We are working on a lot of things right now. You can’t really tell because we are installing the entire offense during training camp.”

But the Falcons are 22-3 when Turner runs for more than 100 yards. They are 4-6 when quarterback Matt Ryan passes for more than 300 yards. In a passing league, they’ve won by running the football.

“There has been an emphasis on some passing stuff,” Turner said. “But we have a lot of weapons and guys need to touch the football.”

Turner has accounted for more than 1,450 yards in offense in three of the past four seasons. He’s gone to two Pro Bowls and made the All-Pro team after his mega-2008 season.

The Falcons said they were going to try to reduce his carries last season, but he ended up with 301, second in the league.

Part of Turner’s success can be attributed to the lead-blocking of fullback Ovie Mughelli, who was released over the offseason. Rookie Bradie Ewing and Mike Cox are in a battle to replace the former Pro Bowler.

“These last couple of days, they’ve been going after these linebackers a little bit,” Turner said. “They are looking good, but I don’t know about putting them on Ovie’s level yet. He was a Pro Bowler and they’ve still got work to do.”

New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, just like Mularkey, has leaned heavily on his running game over his past three seasons.

With Koetter at the controls in Jacksonville, Maurice Jones-Drew led the league in carries with 343 in 2011. He was eighth in the league with 299 carries in 2010 and fifth with 312 carries in 2009.

Turner also turned 30 on Feb. 13. Traditionally, turning 30 signals the end of the road for some of the league’s top running backs.

However, Turner may be a little different because he was used sparingly as a reserve in San Diego. He had just 228 carries in four seasons with the Chargers.

The over-30 running back club has been a mixed bag.

Emmitt Smith, Ricky Watters, Curtis Martin and Tiki Barber continued to prosper after turning 30.

However, Jerome Bettis, Shaun Alexander, Marshall Faulk and Eddie George never rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season after turning 30.

There are some anomalies.

John Riggins rushed for more than 1,000 yards at 34 and 35.

Back in 1964, Pittsburgh’s John Henry Johnson rushed for more than 1,000 yards at age 35.

“I can’t worry about my age,” Turner said. “I feel good. I still feel fresh.”

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 Post subject: Re: Oh no you didn't!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:03 am 
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Don't worry too much Michael Turner, you still will have over 270 carries.


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 Post subject: Re: Oh no you didn't!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:41 am 
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Turner's right, he's not going to be effective with only 10 carries. He's a black hole. He's an accumulator. His success will depend on a lot of carries to wear down defenses. Thus this idea that his carries are going to be dramatically reduced is the biggest crock I've ever heard. Especially when you factor how much the Falcons are paying him. He's still getting paid like a workhorse, thus it would be foolish to pay him that salary and not use him that way.

At the end of the day, I suspect Turner will get around 15 or 16 carries per game. Some weeks it may be as little as 11 or 12, but that'll be balanced by the games where he gets 19 or 20. And those games where he only gets 11 or 12 are likely going to be losses, while the ones where he gets 19 or 20 will likely be wins. Not necessarily because giving Turner the ball more means more success for the offense/team, but actually the opposite more success for the offense/team means giving the ball more.

I still love the idea that people still foster that Turner is somehow going to be beat the odds of being 30 just because he wasn't used a ton in San Diego. C'mon people, all of the carries he's gotten the past 4 years has more than made up for whatever freshness might have been saved from his days there. You look at runners in recent years that have had success at age 30 or later, and you see guys that have gotten lesser workloads than Turner. Turner in his 20s, has carried the ball 1417 times. RBs like Tiki Barber (1070), Warrick Dunn (778), and Fred Taylor (1116) have had success in their 30s in recent years and got a much lesser workload.

That 1417-workload is about the same as Deuce McAllister, Duce Staley, James Stewart, and Larry Johnson had for their entire careers. It's more than Jamal Anderson, Mike Alstott, and Brian Westbrook had for their entire careers. And what's interesting about that is similar to Turner, guys like Anderson, Johnson, and Stewart got relatively late starts to their careers, spending 2-4 years as reserves before really getting their workloads.

IMO, Turner will rush for around 1100 yards this year, getting probably around 240-250 carries if he stays healthy for all 16 games. On paper, it'll work out to be a nice, solid season. But when you actually watch him with your eyes, you're not going to see much of anything special. He's going to have a lot of statlines this year, where he has 15 carries for 57 yards.

That's going to be a normal game for Turner. And in comparison to the top rushers in the league, that is probably going to be one of their 2 or 3 worst games of the season.

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 Post subject: Re: Oh no you didn't!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:06 pm 
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Quote:
But when you actually watch him with your eyes, you're not going to see much of anything special. He's going to have a lot of statlines this year, where he has 15 carries for 57 yards.


As long as we are winning football games, it really doesn't matter, does it? If we're up by 14 in the fourth quarter, Turner best be getting that ball a ton to grind out the clock. If he rumbles for three yards and takes 45 seconds off the clock, so be it.


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 Post subject: Re: Oh no you didn't!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:26 pm 
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AngryJohnny51 wrote:
Quote:
But when you actually watch him with your eyes, you're not going to see much of anything special. He's going to have a lot of statlines this year, where he has 15 carries for 57 yards.


As long as we are winning football games, it really doesn't matter, does it? If we're up by 14 in the fourth quarter, Turner best be getting that ball a ton to grind out the clock. If he rumbles for three yards and takes 45 seconds off the clock, so be it.

Yes, AJ51 you could take that view. That winning trumps all. But that sort of viewpoint hasn't stopped us from making changes elsewhere on the roster. The problem that the Falcons have faced throughout the past few years, and it was no more apparent last year is that they struggle against the better teams in the league, especially when it comes to being on the road. And any player that doesn't help us get better in that regard, IMO isn't really helping the team and thus becomes expendable.

I agree, if the Falcons are up 14 points in the 4th quarter, then feed Turner and let him milk time off the clock. The problem is that I don't think TUrner is going to be very instrumental in helping us build those 14 point leads. I think those will come from passing the ball and the defense playing well rather than because we will be able to pound the ball down our opponents throats in the first 3 quarters.

The good thing for Turner is that we play Denver, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Arizona which are 4 teams that are soft up the middle (or at least were last year). So that's potentially 6 games where Turner could shine. As for the other 10, I think he'll be a minimal factor in helping us win those games.

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 Post subject: Re: Oh no you didn't!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:39 pm 
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Quote:

Back in 1964, Pittsburgh’s John Henry Johnson rushed for more than 1,000 yards at age 35.


Yep and the Steelers went 5-9 that year!!

I agree the way we've used Turner means he's much older than his age!! I thought if we kept him he'd
be happy however he was used!! He can't look slower in on tv than he does on in person. I said once that maybe he gets traded in
preseason when some other back goes down for another team; it probably won't happen but I'd like all of our backs being able to catch
coming out of the backfield!!

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 Post subject: Re: Oh no you didn't!
PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:39 pm 
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See, I'd be happy if Turner got 20 touches a game... But I would expect him to get most of those carries late in the game. Use a balanced, if not, pass driven attack early and often. Seal the win by running out the clock in the 4th. That's how Turner SHOULD be getting his touches.


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 Post subject: Re: Oh no you didn't!
PostPosted: Wed Aug 08, 2012 5:20 pm 
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If they or he think he won't be productive with 10 or 15 carries a game, I have a major problem with that.

That means they virtually admit he is not effective for the first 3 quarters of a game (you don't normally have 20 carries in the 1st half) and therefore isn't helping the team. What you do in the 4th doesn't make up for the rest of the game being in 3rd and 9.


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