Another nail-biter is in the books, and the Falcons walk away with another close, hard-fought victory. While this one wasn't nearly as ugly as the Arizona game, there was a marked difference in the tempo of the game depending on our personnel - most notably hinging on who our running back was. The game against the Bucs may be the clearest picture of our running back situation to date.
Let's start with the raw numbers: Michael Turner carried the ball 13 times for a total of 17 yards and 1TD. That's an average of 1.3 yds per carry and a long of 9 yards. Jaquizz Rodgers carried the ball 10 times for a total of 49 yards and 1TD. That's an average of 4.9 yds per carry and a long of 20 yards. Based on those numbers alone, you'd notice that Quizz clearly had the better day, but the story goes deeper than that.
Let's look at the passing numbers: Michael Turner caught the ball 3 times for 13 yards for a 4.3 average. Quizz caught the ball 2 times for 30 yards for a 15 average. Snelling caught the ball 3 times for 33 yards for an 11 average. Again, based on these numbers alone, you can see that both Snelling and Quizz were demonstrably more effective in the passing game (not even considering drops here).
But here's where the story drives deeper, my fellow nail-biters. A back should not be judged on baseline stats alone, but on how they impact the rest of the offense. And for this article, I want to focus on just one, because it's the one that I feel had the biggest impact on our offense on Sunday - runs for no gains or loss.
On the day, out of Turner's runs - he had 8 runs that resulted in either no yards or a loss. He had 4 runs for negative yards: -3, -2, -1 and -7. In the case of the first 3, those took place on first down - which meant our offense was instantly in a 2nd and long: a clear passing situation, making our offense more predictable. This means that on nearly 62% of the runs that Turner had, our offense did NOT benefit.
For Rodgers, out of his 10 runs, only 3 went for no gain or a loss. He had only 1 run for negative yards: -4, also on a first down. As a percentage, this means that on only 30% of Rodgers' runs, our offense did not benefit. That is over half the percentage of Turner.
To put this bluntly, against the Bucs, our offense was hurt more by Turner than it was helped, while the opposite was true when Snelling and Rodgers were in the game. And while these numbers are only for a single game (I may do a deeper multi-game analysis later), they clearly indicate what many of us have been feeling: that our offense is less effective with Turner in the game.
I love what Turner has done for this franchise, and will forever appreciate his years as the thoroughbred that carried this team, but it's becoming increasingly clear: Michael Turner should no longer be our main running back.
What are your thoughts?