Many who are not Falcons or Chargers fans are probably wondering what the hell all the fuss is about. Many who are Falcons and Chargers fans probably don't know what the fuss is about, either. For all of you who are asking, let me try to explain why Michael Turner is the man, the myth and the legend we've always dreamt of.
I'm just kidding, of course. But the man the AJC calls "the best free-agent running back available" is everything I asked for from this organization last year and never got. Get Jerious Norwood a real complement, I said, a power back who can serve as the hammer to the scythe in the backfield. Instead, we got Warrick Dunn, a wonderful human being who couldn't get anything going for much of the year. It was excruciating, exasperating and a damning indictment of what Rich McKay and Bobby Petrino had in store for the team.
Now we have that complement. There's a lot of questions about how Michael Turner will stand up to a full season's worth of pounding and whether he can be as effective when he's not backing up one of the game's greatest players. There's also justifiable concern about the size of his contract, which is a 6-year, $34.5 million affair. His signing also will apparently lead to the exit of Dunn, who SI.com reports has asked to be released.
It all adds up to a lot of question marks, but there's an easy solution to this. Turner and Norwood can be the thunder-and-lightning rushing attack the Falcons have needed. If the team gets serious about putting together a talented offensive line through the draft and the half-full free agent coffers, there's no reason why this running game can't excel next year. It was a deep draft this year, but there's no denying that Turner is a very intriguing back with a deadly combination of speed and power. He'll just need to prove that combination can hold up over a full season, and I'm willing to give him that chance.
This obviously shakes up the possible structure of the draft. The Falcons won't touch a running back in the first round now, and with Norwood, Turner and Snelling all under team control, there's no reason to suspect that they will until near the end of the draft. Many insist that Matt Ryan will be the pick at #3. I consider it much more likely that the Falcons will pick up Jake Long at that spot and shoot for someone like Joe Flacco in the second round to groom. Either way, the signing of Michael Turner has changed the face of this franchise almost instantly.
We can only hope that's a ringing endorsement.