I’ve seen enough.
Michael Turner is no longer the running back he used to be; the back who was capable of getting you the tough yards. The back who could run through tackles and make the big third down play when needed. The guy who Atlanta Falcons fans could turn to and truly call “The Burner” because he was literally burning through opposing defensive lines with an ease and toughness you could respect from your signature back.
But that guy is apparently gone, leaving Falcons fans with something a lot less impressive.
This Michael Turner is a frustrating one. This Michael Turner makes you pray during short yardage situations because you’re simply not certain he’s capable of getting you that crucial yard. I don’t know about you, but I expect my running back to be something of a horse when it comes to goal line play—run it down there throats and make them pay for trying to tackle you. Turner used to do that, but not this season. If anything, Turner is a liability in such situations and that ain’t good.
…According to ESPN Stats & Information, Turner has had nine carries inside the 3-yard line this season. They’ve resulted in two touchdowns and 1 net yard rushing. In goal-to-go situations, Turner has carried 17 times for three touchdowns and totaled 18 net yards.
But the problem isn’t just limited to the goal line. The Falcons have struggled in all short-yardage situations. When needing 2 or fewer yards on third or fourth down, the Falcons have converted 7 of 15 rushes (46.7 percent) into first downs. Only Detroit (37.5) has a worse percentage and the league average is 66.7 percent. (Pat Yasinkas, “Fixes for Falcons in short yardage”, ESPN.com, 11/14/12)
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the issues with run blocking and, more importantly, the total lack of a good lead blocking fullback to help Turner get the yards needed to make some of his goal line plays more successful. The blame isn’t all on Turner. However, the fact remains that a good back often knows how to create yards, even when there doesn’t appear to be any to be found—Turner used to be pretty good at that, too. Now, he’s just a running back with little explosiveness and a bad knack for losing more yards than he gains.
That’s not the type of back you should be comfortable with entering the post-season.
Bottom line: it’s time to say goodbye to Michael Turner, he simply isn’t the right man for the job anymore.