What a up-and-down season it has been for Turner.
Formely one of the best backs in the NFL, he’s had quite a fall from grace the last two seasons. It was to be expected though, he was physical runner in the mold of a Jerome Bettis or Earl Campbell. Most elite RB’s tend to wear down after about 8 or 9 years in the league, then they’re usually relegated to a backup role a la LaDanian Tomlinson. Football is a physical game, and when you’re playing a position that takes a lot punishment, you are obligated to protect yourself even though your teammates expect you to perform week after week. Some players don’t mind taking a backseat and letting younger players get an opportunity. But, with some players, and even coaches, their ego can cloud their judgement and get in the way of making the decision that’s best for themselves and the team…
Is Mike Smith making the right decision by giving Turner the majority of the carries?
Turner has done a lot for the Falcons. He, along with Mike Smith and Matt Ryan, saved the organization from dog fighting-induced mediocrity. But, ‘The Burner’ has a lot of tread on those tires, and running back is a position needs fresh legs carrying the load. With Turner, it’s a matter of keeping his legs as fresh as long as possible. Why not explore the option of getting Jacquizz, Snelling, and even Antone Smith some of his carries? This is a offense that needs shifty backs that can create when the hole isn’t there, Quizz and Antone Smith fit that mold. When Quizz gets in open space, it’s hard to get a hand on him, and Smith has the homerun speed this offense desperately needs (Ran a 4.25 coming out of high school).
We could also get Snelling involved in late-game and short yardage situations. Snelling has always been an excellent backup that hasn’t gotten the carries he deserves. He fights for every yard and can accelerate quickly when the hole is there. Getting the other three involved can allow another weapon to emerge in the run game. We need all the depth we can get at running back…
Where does that leave Turner?
I don’t have a problem with him starting the game, after all he’s done for the Falcons, we at least owe it to him that he starts every game at the moment, and by the moment, I mean the remainder of the season. But, if he can’t get off to a hot start, why leave him in the game? Turner has over 140 attempts, on pace for over 250 carries. Quizz and Snelling on the other hand, have a combined 52 carries…Neither of them have gotten a chance to get hot, and Smith hasn’t gotten a opportunity at all, and he’s been on the roster for two years.
Mike Smith has made it clear that he still wants the run game to be involved in the Falcons new pass-heavy scheme. That’s fine with me and many other Falcon fans. Teams that expect to contend for the Super Bowl need balance on offense, but, in a offense that likes to pass the majority of its plays, you have to make every run count. To put the bulk of the load on Turner, a back who is on the otherside of 30, isn’t the best decision for the team in the long run. Giving the other backs we have opportunities would be the best way to get the run game going in this offense.
It worked for the Giants in their SB runs, it could definately do wonders for the Falcons.