Monday, March 03, 2008

Memo from Turner

You're a lashing, smashing hunk of man;
Your sweat shines sweet and strong.
Your organs working perfectly, but there's a part that's not screwed on.

So much for the Patriot Way. The Falcons went out and signed the top free agent running back on the market, inking Michael Turner to a deal that includes $15M guaranteed and a total of $34M over six years that Turner, like just about every other NFL player on a long term deal, will never see. The deal doesn't strike me as prohibitively expensive in light of the silly money that is being thrown at players like Bernard Berrian. Turner likely came a tad cheap because of the glut of quality running backs available in the Draft. Supply goes up, price goes down, as the purveyors of the dismal science like to graph.

I like Turner a lot. He has a very good reason to have been a back-up for his career:

You remember the guy whom the Falcons effectively traded for Leavenworth inmate no. 45659603643, don't you?

His career as a back-up has been marked by relatively limited carries (low mileage!) and excellent productivity. (5.5 yards per carry!) The Pro Football Prospectus described Turner thusly this summer:

On a per-play basis, Turner has been more effective than LaDainian Tomlinson, which may say more about the Chargers' offensive line than it does about either Turner or Tomlinson...He's going to be a big prize as an unrestricted free agent in 2008.

The Prospectus also hits on my primary concern regarding the Turner signing: an excellent running back behind a crap offensive line is pearls before swine, or Edgerrin James in Arizona if you prefer. The Falcons' offensive line was not good last year and Turner isn't going to give the team competent tackles or make Justin Blalock into the guy who dominated at Texas. Could I reiterate my request for this guy?

Anyone know of a homoerotic Stones tune about a guy named Jake?

That said, I suspect that Glenn Dorsey or Sedrick Ellis are going to be the pick. The heart of New England's defense is Richard Seymour and his buddies on the defensive line. The heart of Jacksonville's defense was John Henderson and Marcus Stroud. Both Dimitroff and Smith know the importance of quality defensive tackles and there are two premium DTs at the top of the Draft.

And since I often gripe about Arthur Blank in this space, let's have some kudos for the guy who signs the checks. Assuming that Thomas Dimitroff and Michael Smith identified Turner as a primary target, then Blank performed his perfect role: the charming closer. If Blank isn't falling in love with players and affecting personnel decisions with his whims, but is instead used to charm players into coming to Atlanta, then everyone wins. Unlike a lot of owners, Blank has charisma and can be an asset to his organization by using that charisma instead of his amateur scouting skills. Let Peter King decide who can play football across a conference room table.


Jeff said...

This draft appears to be good for lineman and pretty bad for QBs so you better hope Dimitroff and Smith can hold firm against all the people clamoring for the Falcons to solve their QB problems. I think Ryan's better than you do but he's not Top 3 material. (Of course, that's based almost entirely on what he did to VT in the last few minutes of that awful night in November but he showed incredible poise and savvy after getting the crap kicked out of him for 56 minutes.) Dorsey seems like a no-brainer if he's available but Jake Long wouldn't hurt either. (BTW, nice picture--it looks like he's blocking a 10 year old.)

susieandrew said...

I wonder if I have anymore "I brake for Jake" bumper stickers...

I hear great things about Michael Turner on a personal level. My colleague grew up in the same neighborhood as Michael and she has nothing but positive things to say about him and his family.