The Atlanta Falcons have won a lot of games over the last four years thanks to Michael Turner. That's a fact.
Coming into the 2011 season, the Falcons made a lot of noise about their passing game, and it seemed justified. Up to this point, however, it hasn't led to a lot of production for Matt Ryan and his merry band of receivers. Indeed, Ryan has just an 82 passer rating with eight touchdowns and six interceptions. He had 9 interceptions all of last year, for comparison's sake.
The Falcons have the potential to be an elite passing offense before long, but they're in the middle of a stretch that favors Turner. An inconsistent runner at this point in his career—especially with the offensive line getting off to a sluggish start—Turner has nonetheless been a beast against weak run defenses. Where other backs will have good games against the struggling, Touchdown Vampire basically dominates. That was true against the Panthers, who were in the bottom four in the league in run defense.
The next two games should continue that trend. The Colts are actually worse than the Panthers, if you can believe that, and are a generally awful football team right now. Before we can get to them, the Falcons play the Lions, a damn scary football team with one glaring weakness: They're 25th in the league against the run. The 49ers exploited that on Sunday, with Frank Gore racking up well over 100 yards, and Gore has had a very mediocre year. These are prime circumstances for Turner.
The Falcons' goal, then, should be to hearken back to the days of 2008. Use Turner as a battering ram these next two games, wearing down defenses and milking the clock, and chew up yardage. Mix in a short passing game and take strikes downfield as needed. Normally I'd advocate being more aggressive and taking advantage of the Falcons' stable of passing game weapons, but with the opportunities in front of them, it would be wise to lean on Turner just a little big longer.
Do you think Turner's primed for a great stretch? Tell us why or why not.