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Michael Turner Doesn't Like Sucking

Fact: Michael Turner once ate an entire cheese wheel. And I wasn't even mad.

Stephen Brashear - Getty Images

Michael Turner managed just 33 yards on 11 carries against the Raiders.

He was playing against the 24th best run defense in the league (from an efficiency standpoint). And it was yet another disappointing game for the embattled running back.

Avoidance is our new technique - just avoid running the ball. You saw it a couple times yesterday. Most offensive coordinators with a capable back at their disposal will at least contemplate running the ball when it's third and short. Not Koetter. Not with Turner in the backfield.

Turner won't come out and say he's frustrated, and I respect that. But his frustration is very apparent.

Have the Falcons lost confidence in Turner or their ability to run the ball at all?

“You would have to ask them that. That’s not something they would tell me. It’s their team, their scheme, their offense. I’m just here to try to help them win.”

It's not a good feeling. He's dealing with legal issues. He's dealing with family issues. He's staring down retirement. I really do feel for him.

But what are the Falcons to do? Turner has given a lot to this team. But facts are facts. 36 running backs have a better success rate. He's 17th in rushing yards. He's not even in the top 20 for yards/game or yards/carry.

Meanwhile, our run-first mentality is history. Atlanta is only rushing the ball 35.82 percent of its offensive snaps (26th in the NFL) this season (compared to 41.69 percent of its offensive snaps in 2011). We're rushing the ball less each game. Only 19.12 percent of Atlanta's first downs are rushing first downs (30th in the NFL). Rushing yards have only accounted for 23.94 percent of our total yards this season (26th in the NFL).

It's a bit more complicated than the numbers listed above. They're informative, but there's more to the story. If you look at the advanced statistics (through week 5), we're not as bad as we seem. Our ALY and stuffed rank aren't too shabby. But our second level and open field yards are decidedly mediocre. We're having the most success when we run off the left end and right tackle, but we're downright average when running up the gut.

Look, I don't know where we go from here. I'm not Thomas Dimitroff. It's not my job to decide that. To be honest, it's hard to offer an intelligent analysis of where we stand. We're not dealing with an ideal sample size. Moreover, this team is different than in years past by design. In other words, they're doing it on purpose. They're emphasizing the pass where they'd historically pound the rock.

It blows my mind. But I'm curious what y'all think.