Falcons' Turner feels better days are ahead
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner has heard the critics say that he's too slow and too old to convert short-yardage downs.
He couldn't disagree more.
“Everybody's going to nitpick,” Turner said Thursday. “We're a different team this year, obviously, with philosophies and things like that, but I mean we're 8-1. That's the bottom line. To get Ws. We're not worried about it.”
Coming off their first loss of the season, Turner and the Falcons were punchless in short-yardage situations last week at New Orleans.
The two-time Pro Bowl running back was held to his least productive day in five seasons with Atlanta, running 13 times for 15 yards.
But Turner said that the Falcons have done far more right offensively this season than they've done wrong.
Atlanta ranks fourth in passing and seventh in scoring, but just 26th in rushing. Turner insists that the Falcons only need to make a few corrections against Arizona (4-5) on Sunday to get the running game operating efficiently.
Last week was ugly. On eight plays, New Orleans stuffed Turner either for no gain or lost yardage. The worst came on third-and-goal at the 1 in the game's final 2 minutes.
The Falcons lined up in a seven-man front, sent tight end Michael Palmer in motion and had fullback Mike Cox ready to take on a defender to spring Turner.
Instead, a blocking breakdown by left tackle Sam Baker trigged a collapse that allowed three Saints to tackle Turner in the backfield. On the next snap, Matt Ryan's go-ahead touchdown pass to Roddy White was knocked down.
Turner gave the Saints credit instead of blaming his teammates.
“Sometimes defenses are going to have good schemes against us and be able to get good penetration and things like that,” Turner said. “It's just something we have to handle and run different types of plays sometimes and just clean it up.”
It wasn't the first game in which Atlanta and Turner had struggles. In 40 attempts inside the opponents' 10-yard line last season, Turner averaged a paltry 1.1 yards. The year before, he had just 1.3 yards on 41 attempts.
“We don't take anything for granted,” Turner said.