Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Running backs break down, it's a reality of the league. What does yesterday's game mean for the long-term future of Michael Turner in Atlanta?
There have been questions all season about whether Michael Turner was 'done'. Some thought the running back was breaking down with a huge amount of carries on his body, while others wrote them off as growing pains, as the Falcons adjusted to Dirk Koetter's new offense. After yesterday's game even the most staunch supporter will have questions this morning.
Finishing with a paltry 17 yards on 13 carries, Turner wasn't able to make any impact against the Buccaneers. Yes, Tampa Bay have the NFL's best rush defense, but for a strong North-South back like Michael Turner, he should have managed more than 1.3 yards per carry.
Enter Jacquizz Rodgers, who despite facing the same defense, has his coming out party. Falcons fans have been waiting all season to see if Rodgers could be their RB of the future, and despite having some flashes, overall he didn't look like a three down back. Today was a different story, and represented a sea-change in the offensive scheming for Atlanta. Rodgers made the most of his 12 touches, as he amassed 79 all-purpose yards, and ran in a touchdown. In addition, he returned a kickoff for 43 yards-- it was truly a great day.
What then do we make of the RB situation moving forward? Michael Turner has been the long-standing, reliable back; a tireless workhorse, but it's clear that he no longer has the burst needed to be a 1,000 yard back. While Jacquizz Rodgers doesn't offer the same reliability, he offers a spark-- and that's something the Falcons need. They can't rely on Julio Jones to get a 80-yard catch every week.