TAMPA FL - DECEMBER 05: Running back Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons scores a first quarter touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Raymond James Stadium on December 5 2010 in Tampa Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
To understand Michael Turner's true value, you have to set aside numbers. At least temporarily.
It's easy to understand and easier to forget that football players are human beings, albeit exceptionally powerful and tough ones. Taking hits over and over, having to drag down heavy backs and running constantly—these are the things that wear out defenses, no matter how strong. And that's why Turner is so valuable.
Take the Bucs game. His numbers aren't impressive—24 carries for 88 yards—but the key turned out to be the carries. Turner was able to break some decent gains late in the game, including an 11-yarder, because he's such a load that eventually, defenders slip a little. And they were literally slipping thanks to the field condition, which didn't hurt.
Sure, Turner's best when he's cracking 100 yards on 15-20 carries and carrying eleven defenders into the end zone like Katamari Damacy. But that's not going to happen every week, and Mularkey tends to limit those totals by sending Turner up the middle over and over again, sort of like he's acting in the coaching version of Memento. But even in those off weeks, Turner's powering through, weakening the defense and setting up the pass.
That's why we're honoring the big guy this week. Weigh in.