Atlanta has explosive one-two punch
Posted Jun. 26 at 01:23 AM
I'm intrigued by Atlanta's running game. The team's offensive line could be a problem, but it definitely has talent at running back, with the one-two punch of Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood. Turner could be an above-average starter, while Norwood appears to be one of the league's best No. 2 backs.
The Falcons ranked 26th in rushing last season, but part of that was by design - the team went with a pass-heavy approach last season.
Consider the chart below, which shows the most effective running backs, in terms of yards per carry, in the last three years. It's rare for a running back to average 5.9 yards per attempt; both Norwood and Turner have done it twice.
On the chart below, you're seeing the top 10 of the 200 running backs who've carried the ball at least 50 times in a season in the last three years.
So Turner and Norwood definitely have talent. I see them as one of the best one-two punches in the league. Similar to Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville and Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw of New York (although the Giants also have Derrick Ward, so maybe they're actually a one-two-three punch). Minnesota (Peterson/Taylor) and Washington (Portis/Betts) also have nice duos in their backfields, but in those cases, the second guy is more of a standard bread-and-butter back, rather than a homerun hitter.
The key could be Atlanta's offensive line, which looks like one of the worst in the league. My colleague, Andy Richardson, took a close look at each of the league's offensive lines for the magazine, and he believes Atlanta's group is the 2nd-worst in the league. Like seven other teams, the Falcons are counting on a blocker they selected in the first round (Sam Baker of Southern Cal) stepping in and helping out right away.
BEST RUSHING AVERAGES IN LAST THREE YEARS
(Running backs only, 50-attempt minimum)
Avg Player (Year) Att-Yds-TD
6.4 Jerious Norwood, Atl. (2006) 99-633-2
6.3 Michael Turner, S.D. (2006) 80-502-2
6.2 Michael Pittman, T.B. (2005) 70-436-1
6.0 Jerious Norwood, Atl. (2007) 103-613-1
5.9 Michael Turner, S.D. (2005) 57-335-3
5.7 Maurice Jones-Drew, Jac. (2006) 166-941-13
5.6 Adrian Peterson, Minn. (2007) 238-1341-12
5.4 Frank Gore, S.F. (2006) 312-1695-8
5.4 Fred Taylor, Jac. (2007) 223-1202-5
5.4 Chester Taylor, Minn. (2007) 157-844-7
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Jun. 26 at 03:08 AM
Another definite concern for the Falcons is their defense. They lost DeAngelo Hall, Rod Coleman, and Demorrio Williams, and the replacements at all three positions will probably be worse -- definitely in the case of Hall and Williams. They might have a hard time committing to the running game if they're always playing from behind.
Posted by Rob Dammers | Jun. 27 at 01:36 AM
No Alex Gibbs, either.
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