Turner, running game plodding out of the gate for Falcons

Posted Sept. 22, 2012 @ 11:58 a.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

Falcons RB Michael Turner will play Sunday vs. his former team, the Chargers, after being arrested for DUI earlier this week, but how effective will he be against the league’s top-ranked run defense?

Turner has gained only 74 yards on 28 carries (2.6-yard average) through two games, which is the least productive opening to a season he has had since joining the Falcons in 2008. While some team observers say he’s just not breaking tackles like he used to, the team is not pinning all of the blame for the running game’s slow start on Turner — head coach Mike Smith has indicated the offensive line’s run blocking needs to catch up to its pass protection, which has not been much of an issue.

Our sources have questioned whether Turner is a great fit for offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s system. Turner’s struggles to find holes and break loose are not new, though. He’s averaged 3.6 yards per carry or less in eight of his last nine games, including the playoffs — he teed off on the Bucs’ league-worst run defense in Week 17 last season in his only 100-yard outing over the nine-game span.

The Falcons are counting on scatback Jacquizz Rodgers to provide an element of explosiveness to their ground game this season, but he has not found the sledding any easier than Turner has thus far. In fact, QB Matt Ryan (4.9) is the only Falcons player averaging more than 2.6 yards per carry.