Matt Ryan gets all the attention, and he is a very good player. But when I watch tape of the Falcons, my eyes are always drawn to Michael Turner and how he impacts defenses. Offensive Coordinator Mike Mularky is a former TE and he bases his offense on power running. It is probably my favorite running game to watch.
Mularky uses very clever packages of misdirection running and blocking that sets up their play action and bootlegs. The scheme is based around one of the most underrated players in the game, Michael Turner. Turner is a rare blend of power and speed. One of the reasons the Falcons went so strongly after him was his big play ability. In limited opportunities playing with San Diego, he had a lot of dynamic plays. Turner uses his power to break the line-of-scrimmage and his speed to score. Believe me, defensive backs are not lining up to try and tackle that big guy in the open field.
Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling are good role players, but when Turner went out with the high ankle injury last year, the Falcons were not the same. Turner was well on his way to another monster season, averaging nearly 5 yards per carry prior to the injury. With Turner healthy and the return of DL Peria Jerry, who played in only 2 games last year, the Falcons are well poised to be a legitimate threat to the Saints this year.
The key questions for the Falcons are:
1) Is Matt Ryan's toe is OK.
2) Can Dunta Robinson help a weak secondary that has been re-made after taking most of the blame for a weak pass rush.
3) Can the Falcons find a pass rushing threat opposite John Abraham who saw his sack numbers collapse from a team record 16.5 in 2008 to 5.5 in 09.
4) Can Tony Gonzalez, Roddy White, and Michael Turner all stay healthy and give Matt Ryan the triplets that could match points with the Saints or anybody else.