Jan 8, 2012; East Rutherford, NY, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) tries to elude New York Giants cornerback Aaron Ross (31) during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium. The Giants defeated the Falcons 24-2. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

State of The Franchise – Running Back


As the state of the franchise continues (Check out Cornerbacks and Quarterbacks) we look at the running back position. This position on the team could be in flux this season with some changes certainly on the way.

We start by looking at Michael Turner, the franchise tailback for the Falcons throughout the Mike Smith era. There is no question that Turner has been a magnificent player for this franchise but with the offense moving to a more passing attack and his high cap rating for the upcoming season, do the Falcons part ways with Turner?

My immediate response would have to be no, while Turner is slowing down as time goes on, which is to be expected from an over 30 tailback, he can still offer something to the Falcons offense. If Dirk Koetter does what he needs to do and creates an expansive, vertical offense, the value of Turner clearly diminishes as the better fit for that offense is young Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers, who adds a great deal as a pass catcher out of the backfield, something that Turner really poses little threat at.

Even so, Turner for me still should be the starting tailback, (taking nothing away from Jacquizz, who i rate very highly) he is still a physical runner which could add an another element to the offense and could mean he will be be more effective as the secondary focus in the offense rather than the primary one in Mularkey’s offense.

I also fear that Jacquizz would struggle to take every snap over the entire season and splitting carries 50/50 with Turner could be a devastating combination.

Talking of Jacquizz Rodgers, this guy could become a very dangerous weapon in the Koetter offense. He has exceptional power for a little guy and (using a Mayockism) is “quicker than fast” which works very nicely in between and outside the tackles. Under Mularkey, Rodgers role was limited to the 3rd down, situation type back,  but in 2012 his role will be expanded a great deal and could end up having a Darren Sproles type impact for this offense.

In 2012, i would expect Turner and Rodgers to get the lion share of the carries, what are the Falcons going to do behind those two guys.

Jason Snelling has been a very nice role player, and will again search for a big deal in free agency. If he doesn’t find one he could be back on another one year deal as his versatility offers something different from the other two.

The Falcons carried 4 running backs last year, with the final one being Antoine Smith. His role was limited exclusively to a special teams player and did very well as a gunner on punts most notably. I’m not convinced that he could make our roster as a running back alone, which is why his play on special teams is so important. He will be in camp again and could make the roster unless some more talented special teams players are in the mix.

If Turner stays i can see the Falcons making any moves for a running back in free agency. In the draft a few names that could be possibilities should Turner leave is Baylor RB Terrance Gannaway, Temple RB Bernard Pierce and Virginia Tech RB David Wilson.

Go Falcons

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  • leaston

    I like Turner and he’s been a very good back but I look for the Birds to make a move away from him. I don’t want to sound as though I’m putting him down but many times if Turner gets hit before he has been moving for a few yards he seems to go down pretty easy. He’s looks to be getting bigger and slower and he’s not that great at catching the ball coming out of the backfield nor moving side to side. He’s limited in what he can do and it seems to be getting more limited. It will get more limited. He’s getting older and it would be good for the team to move on IMO, maybe even a little early than it would be do it one year too late. I wish we could find another William Andrews type guy. No matter what happens Turner has served the Falcons well up to this point. If he stays I believe his role will be reduced and that might not go over very well. Did you see the look on his face as he stood on the sidelines as we were getting our tails kicked in the Giants blowout when we went for it on 4-1 with him not in the game? That’s probably how well he would take the reduced role he might be playing.

  • leaston

    I like Turner and he’s been a very good back but I look for the Birds to make a move away from him. I don’t want to sound as though I’m putting him down but many times if Turner gets hit before he has been moving for a few yards he seems to go down pretty easy. He’s looks to be getting bigger and slower and he’s not that great at catching the ball coming out of the backfield nor moving side to side. He’s limited in what he can do and it seems to be getting more limited. It will get more limited. He’s getting older and it would be good for the team to move on IMO, maybe even a little early than it would be do it one year too late. I wish we could find another William Andrews type guy. No matter what happens Turner has served the Falcons well up to this point. If he stays I believe his role will be reduced and that might not go over very well. Did you see the look on his face as he stood on the sidelines as we were getting our tails kicked in the Giants blowout when we went for it on 4-1 with him not in the game? That’s probably how well he would take the reduced role he might be playing.

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