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Packers Need to Avoid a Disintegrating Michael Turner

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 20:  Running back Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons runs the ball as he is hit by inside linebacker Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistMarch 1, 2013

The Green Bay Packers need help in the backfield. Michael Turner, recently released by the Atlanta Falcons (h/t ESPN's Adam Schefter), had a rough 2012 but was coming off two straight 1,300-plus-yard seasons.

Perfect fit, right?

Pump your brakes there folks.

While Turner had been a solid player the previous two seasons, 2012 actually showed us a lot of things which should make any Packers fan hesitate to add "The Burner" to the Green Bay backfield.

First of all, Turner really didn't pass the "eye test" last season.

While his play picked up late in the year, overall he looked slow and plodding all season long. Turner ran with little to no speed, a complete absence of power and frankly looked like he was running in molasses.

If you watched him run, he looked like a guy who was just tired—even early in the season.

We know how quickly it ends for running backs, and for every player who can make it to 30 and be productive, there are dozens who hit a wall at that point.

It certainly looks like Turner did, at least just watching him.

Of course, the stats back it up as well. Turner's yards per carry dipped severely between 2011 and 2012—supporting the evidence of my eyes just watching him.

In 2011 Turner was a tough runner and averaged a 4.5 yards per carry. He could move the pile and showed a little speed when he got into the open field.

However, if you look closer, he struggled for long stretches that season, and only broke 100 yards six times while falling short of 70 yards six times as well.

Still, overall, he played well.

2012 saw a player who didn't look half as good and struggled to find the same space and speed he had been able to take advantage of in the previous year.

His numbers took a nosedive, though part of that was an increase in carries for Jacquizz Rodgers. But his average yards per carry dropped almost a full point to 3.6.

Turner did find the end zone plenty of times, topping 10 for the fifth season in a row.

Despite this, Turner just looked to be breaking down and was a non-factor (aside from touchdowns) for most of the second half of the season. In fact, he had no 100-yard games after Week 9—coming close only in the playoff win over Seattle.

However, he didn't score in either that game nor the loss to San Francisco the week after.

Michael Turner is still a name some fans equate with a stud, workhorse running back, and some Packers fans feel he could be a missing piece to the backfield.

And he would have been—three years ago.

For now, the Packers need to avoid him like the plague and thereby avoid a guy who is breaking down as we speak.

 

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