One of the pillars of the Atlanta Falcon offense over the last five seasons has been Michael Turner, whose legs are like tree trunks and whose mouth breathes a particularly fierce fire.
Turner has put up over 6,000 yards and 59 touchdowns during his tenure in Atlanta, and in the first four years he was nothing short of the feature of the offense. Even as the team started moving toward a more pass-friendly gameplan in 2010 and 2011, Turner still put up over 1,300 yards a year. The Falcons pounded the football. That was their identity.
This year, it's all come crashing down for Turner. He has 782 yards through 15 games to go with nine touchdowns, both on track to be his lowest totals as a Falcon. Thanks to a combination of subpar run blocking, the grim march of time on his legs and the Falcons' willingness to dial up the pass most of the time, Turner has faded into the background. Barring a minor miracle, he will finish will less than 1,000 yards for only the second time in his career, and the first time that hasn't been caused by injury.
Maybe I'm just in a festive sort of mood, but I think it's worth tipping your fur-trimmed cap to Turner today. The Falcons have continued to run him and he's shown a little more in recent weeks, which will likely be critical in the playoffs. But even if you consider this a lackluster year for him--and to be clear, I do--he's done a lot for this franchise. Missing the 1,000 yard mark this year tells you a lot about how cruel the NFL can be to running backs, but it doesn't tell the whole story of Turner's tenure.
Talk Turner and your Christmas Day here, if you please.