Michael Turner: The Burner Ignites Atlanta's Potential

JasonContributor IOctober 17, 2008

Hot-lanta has become the Disney World of the NFL.  There is not a publication that can be found that had the Falcons getting more than four wins for the 2008 season, and now they have become the marquee story of the 2008 season.


The team from Atlanta started the season at No. 32 on ESPN.com’s power rankings.  Now the team is up to No. 15 and gaining popularity faster than the skinny girl at fat camp.


The Falcons came into the season “rebuilding” with a first-time, first-year general manager and head coach, along with a rookie quarterback.


In addition, even though Atlanta had a running back with the highest yards-per-carry average of any active player in the NFL (with at least 200 carries) in Jerious Norwood, they decided to pick up—and over-pay, in most experts’ initial opinions—the biggest offensive free agent on the market.


Michael Turner, a career back-up out of Northern Illinois, has arrived.  Not only has Turner arrived, but he has helped transform a franchise and a city.


After backing up and learning from LaDainian Tomlinson, arguably the most complete running back in the NFL, Michael “The Burner” Turner has put up LaDainian-esque numbers through the first six games of the 2008 season.


The Burner has 597 yards on 128 attempts for a 4.7 yards-per-carry average and five runs of more than 20 yards.  That includes sharing 41 carries with his dynamic backfield teammate Norwood.


The Falcons’ coaching staff has done a tremendous job with this young team, and they are using Turner efficiently while making the most of his explosive play-making abilities.


Currently, the team is 13th in the NFL in total points scored.  However, this statistic is a bit misleading because Atlanta leads the league in field goals made with 16, while only having 12 offensive touchdowns.


During the bye week, the Falcons will be implementing new red zone schemes and working to improve on the current plan. 


This team has been in the red zone 20 times in the first six weeks of the 2008 season, but they have only scored a touchdown eight times.  At 40 percent, the Falcons are ranked 28th in the NFL in percentage of touchdowns scored in the red zone.


With the progress this coaching staff has made with this young Falcons team in the first third of the NFL calendar, expect Atlanta to come out of the bye week with a renewed vigor and the same excitement they have shown so far.


Oh, and you can expect The Burner to keep right on running people over and making big plays in the running game.  Rarely has a free agent come in to a team and been able to contribute so much, so quickly.