In this series of posts, I come up with crazy ideas that, while completely possible in the darkest realms of theory, they're more likely to be evaluated by a psych ward for hallucinations and multiple personalities.
I noticed something in one of my Saturday Six Pack articles that caught my eye. It was from the NY Times season preview for us. There's a particular section in the beginning that reads:
But look a little closer and you’ll see what Dimitroff sees: an offense that ranked 31st in pass plays over 20 yards last season and was guided by the smashmouth principle of high-volume running out of jumbo personnel packages. Twenty years ago, this formula was golden. But today, it’s anachronistic. The offensive coordinator, Mike Mularkey, has made it work the past two years, but the bell cow he rides, running back Michael Turner, is 29 and destined to soon hit the same wall that Clinton Portis, Edgerrin James, Shaun Alexander and virtually every other running back has eventually hit. When Turner does, expect the Falcons to push the reset button and write a more modern, pass-oriented playbook.
As soon as I read that, I immediately thought of a conspiracy theory, and it's one that, however terrible it might sound, could actually be legitimate.
Today, I ask you this: Could the Falcons offense be purposefully conservative until Turner has been run into the ground? Jump with me and let's talk about it!
While the front office will tell you they knew what they were getting in Matt Ryan, it suffices to say that they probably didn't know they were getting a QB that was, well, this good. The signing of Turner brought in a low mileage RB who had shown flashes of greatness in San Diego, and had done enough running to guarantee what had been shown in his career.
In order to help a young QB, a strong running game is needed. If the Falcons were taking a gamble on a rookie QB, and they knew what they were getting in a workhorse RB, is it possible that the RB could've been used solely to ease the QB's transition into the NFL?
It sounds silly at first thought, but consider this: Turner has been given a massive amount of touches since 2008. He's capable of handling the load, yes, but no RB can keep up 350+ carries a year for long. That's just the nature of the beast. A physical RB is probably more likely to break down early simply because they take so many more vicious hits than a sneaky, speed RB.
We've criticized Offensive Coordinator Mike Mularkey's lack of creativity, but we've continued to win in spite of some of it being boring and/or unoriginal at times. Most all of us have been calling for Matty to have the leash removed, and many of us thought that should've happened last year (it didn't, really.) which makes me wonder whether they're going to run Turner into the ground before Matty gets his turn? By the time Turner runs out of gas (end of this year, perhaps?) there will be no doubt whether or not Matty is capable of handling a full-time passer's job without a good RB.
The whole world has been yelling for Matty to be let loose, and it hasn't happened yet. What gives? Were they preparing Matty for the future? Were they trying to run Turner as hard as humanly possible until he couldn't go anymore? An offense minus Turner would be a very different offense, and it would require a lot of adjustments. A more pass-oriented attack would have to come about, and as it stands right now, our offense isn't a passing attack.
Could Turner have been used solely to prepare Matty for life after Turner? Discuss!