Monday's scrimmage against the Titans proved that the pass game is already dialed in for the Falcons. Not that there was much doubt with a QB of Matt Ryan's caliber, paired with Roddy White and Julio Jones. However, it was comments from Michael Turner to the AJC that really caught the attention of Falcons fans.
"Ten carries a game, I don't think I'll be that effective like that. But you know, I'm going to make the most of my opportunities like I always have."
Predicated on the notion that the burner was getting burnt out, speculation has been rampant that Turner will have his role drastically cut in Dirk Koetter's offense, and in this case talking about a reduction in carries of 50%. Since arriving from San Diego he's been one of the most used RBs in the NFL, averaging over twenty carries per game. Now the assumption is that with the emergence of Julio Jones, and an extremely deep corps of receivers, that it will be okay to scale him back, and let him fade.
I'm not buying it for a second.
A team doesn't bring in someone like Dirk Koetter if they plan to only run the ball ten times per game with their featured back. This is the same man whose offensive philosophy was based on having the entire team lean on Maurice Jones Drew, and hope someone else stepped up in the passing game. MJD was one of only a few RBs used more than Turner, and yet we're supposed to think everything will be scaled back? Yes, coordinators change, but it's far harder to get a tiger to change his stripes.
By the numbers it's reasonable to think Turner will have his role reduced, but I think this will be negligible at best. If Turner gets less than fifteen carries per game I'll be shocked, and that's because of how Koetter builds his passing offense off the run. Will Mike Smith have a say in how the offense is run? Absolutely, I'm sure his new OC won't upset the apple cart. However, the Falcons' braintrust wouldn't have opted for a run-run-pass guy like Koetter if the plan was to turn them purely into a passing team.
Look no further than division rivals Carolina for an example of a pass-heavy team who still leaned on their RBs plenty. The situation is slightly different because of their two-back system, but even the throw-happy Panthers managed to run the ball 18.5 times per game through their running backs. Being primarily a passing team and still using the RB aren't mutally exclusive concepts, and I think when the dust settles we'll still see Michael Turner getting 17+ carries per game, even with Atlanta's potent passing offense.
Why? Because it's in both Turner's, and Koetter's DNA.