Atlanta Falcons: Get ready for ‘The Burner & Quizz Show’



FLOWERY BRANCH – Much of the offseason chatter has been about screen passes and a vertical passing game under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

But the Falcons’ calling card over the past four seasons has been the rushing attack, powered by running back Michael Turner, who has rushed for more than 1,300 yards in three of the past four seasons.

He had 1,340 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He had 1,371 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010. In 2008, he rushed for 1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns.

In 2009, he was slowed by a high ankle sprain and rushed for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns in 11 games.

Turner, who caught a career-high 17 passes last season, is embracing change.

“Playing running back is playing running back,” Turner said. “You’ve got to get the tough yards and make explosive plays. There might me a little bit more passing than

Falcons running back Michael Turner bulls his way into the end zone following a block by Justin Blalock for a 1-yard touchdown run and a 28-0 lead over Tampa Bay during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012. The touchdown gave Turner a franchise best with 49 career touchdowns. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons running back Michael Turner bulls his way into the end zone following a block by Justin Blalock for a 1-yard touchdown run and a 28-0 lead over Tampa Bay during 1st half action at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012. The touchdown gave Turner a franchise best with 49 career touchdowns. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

normal from what Falcons fans are used to. But you just have to be ready when your name is called.”

Turner had 301 carries last season, 334 in 2010 and 376 in 2008.

“Michael has been our workhorse for a few years,” Running backs coach Gerald Brown said. “We’ve discussed the possibility of making sure that we monitor his reps so that he can stay strong for us, through the season and into December. We feel very good about Jason Snelling and Jacquizz [Rodgers], who have played.”

Turner just chuckled at the notion that his carries will be monitored more closely.

“They always say that,” Turner said.

Turner noted that Koetter’s Jacksonville offense led the league is rushing last season despite having a rookie quarterback and an impotent passing attack.

“I have to take my hat off to [Jacksonville running back Maurice] Jones-Drew for still getting the job done when they say he had no help out there,” Turner said. “We’ve got names across the board here. It gets me excited that he still led the league in rushing and did great things for them without any help.”

Atlanta Falcons' Jacquizz Rodgers (22) celebrates his touchdown catch against the Carolina Panthers with teammate Joe Hawley (61) during the third quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. AP

Atlanta Falcons' Jacquizz Rodgers (22) celebrates his touchdown catch against the Carolina Panthers with teammate Joe Hawley (61) during the third quarter of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011. AP

Turner said he’s made sense of wide receiver Roddy White’s contention that they need to do less on offense for the unit to improve.

“I understand what Roddy is saying by that,” Turner said. “It’s not all on Roddy. It’s not all on Matt. If we all contribute together or collectively, we are all doing less, but accomplishing more.”

Turner is set to be backed up by Jason Snelling and second-year man Jacquizz Rodgers. The Falcons have high hopes that Rodgers can handle an increased load.

Turner is fine with splitting up some of the action with Rodgers, who will have the benefit of the offseason program this season.

”He got basically thrown into the fire right away,” Turner said. “This will slow things down for him a little bit and he’ll get into a groove. He’ll be ready to go this year.”

Rodgers senses that he could play a big role in the screen game.

“Right now, everybody is getting a shot at running screens,” Rodgers said. “I’m looking forward to being a part of that. Coach Dirk (Koetter) is huge on running the screen, so we have a lot of screens in store.”

Rodgers played in all 16 games last season. He had 57 rushes for 205 yards and a touchdown. He also caught 21 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown.

“What he was able to do with not having an offseason, we thought was really good,” Brown said. “With an offseason, we think it can do nothing but make him a better player. Even last year, when we game-planned, we made sure that Quizz had some touches because he can do some things in the run and pass game. He’s an explosive player and we’ll try to get him the the ball.”

The Falcons released former Pro Bowler Ovie Mughelli over the offseason and will have a new fullback. Bradie Ewing, Mike Cox and Lee Meisner are competing to replace Mughelli.

“Last year, Cox ended up playing from the Indy game on,” Brown said. “He’s an NFL veteran. Ewing has done some really good things since he’s been here. We are happy about the competition that we have at the position right now.”

Turner, who turned 30 in February, hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

“He’s been looking really good,” Brown said. “Physically, he’s running the ball well. He’s right on pace, where he should be. We expect the same thing that he’s been giving us. . . Mike is looking good.”

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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74 comments Add your comment

FalconUGAFan

June 8th, 2012
5:41 am

Sounds great….Turner has been our workhorse….

Scott Anderson

June 8th, 2012
6:13 am

Turner had as many carries last year as he weighs coming into camp. 301
How can a pro not just back away from the table and keep in shape. Too many cheesburgers at the dining table. Faster huh. Come on dude has lost a step. Smiths penchant for running him up the middle is a waste mostly. Every once in awhile he will break one but not often. Combine that with Matty Ice and his weight training and it seems a joke. Ryan dont look any differant than he always does at camp. Finesse is the only way for him. Too bad he cant make the long throws. 10-6 is a longshot for this team.

Go Falcons

David

June 8th, 2012
6:35 am

Turner should not even talk about tough yards and explosive after that green bay game, loose some weight Lard A$$ and get in shape !!!!!!

J-Man Falcon Fan

June 8th, 2012
6:40 am

I hope Michael Turtle, which is what my buddy’s 8 year old calls him, is trim and ready!

Paddy

June 8th, 2012
6:54 am

D Led……is M T really that far out of shape?

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
7:18 am

Paddy — Where did you come up with that from? He looks to be in great shape!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
7:20 am

David – I find it very disrespectful that you are dissing a guy who’s ran for 1,300 yards in three of the last four years. That’s shameful. You can’t call yourself a “fan” doing that.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
7:21 am

Scott Anderson — Where is this coming from? He is in great shape. He actually looks much lighter.

Lil Rob

June 8th, 2012
7:24 am

D Led — some local radio hosts who have been out at Flowery Branch said yesterday that Turner looked to be 20-25 lbs overweight.

Paddy

June 8th, 2012
7:26 am

D Led…..great news. A couple post refered to the opposite. Glad to hear it from the beat writer who sees the players every day.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
7:41 am

Lil Rob – I don’t believe that’s accurate. I’ve seen him EVERY offseason. He actually looks a little lighter. His face even looks slimmer as Poppa Falcon pointed out to me in a tweet.

tp

June 8th, 2012
7:53 am

D Led … I don’t think anyone can argue that Matt Ryan looks to be in great shape. Did he work out with Tim Tebow in the offseason? He looks like he’s gained 15 to 20 pounds of muscle.

PapaK

June 8th, 2012
8:05 am

Michael Turner has done an outstanding job for the Falcons. He’s not going to outrun many players, but durable. I think Quizz will help the Falcons with those 4 and inches play. IF the coaches call something other than a run up the gut.

Aaron Murray

June 8th, 2012
8:25 am

I will be Matt’s replacement in a few years, then you will know what a noodle arm looks like.

Scarborouh Falcon

June 8th, 2012
8:27 am

Tell Em’ D.LED!!! Turner is a reliable beast, our play calls killed us not our talent. We were as predictable as the alphabet!

Double Zero Eight

June 8th, 2012
8:30 am

Based on what I have read, I am
cautiously optimistic.

D man

June 8th, 2012
8:42 am

I wish August would hurry up and get here so I can watch some football.

D man

June 8th, 2012
8:44 am

Mike has been great for the Falcons. Quizz needs to step it up a bit this year with the screen passes. I’m excited to see what he can do with the ball when he gets some running room.

SeenThisB4

June 8th, 2012
8:55 am

The Burner & Quizz Show? Sounds like a second rate comedy show.

That’s two guys, two. No depth. One runs (a career high 17 catches last year, seventeen! that’s an average 1 catch per game.)
The other catches and does have youth and quickness. But, everyone in Georgia knows who is not going to be catching screen passes out of the backfield….the knock on Mularkey was that he was predictable….I think that I’ve SeenThisB4.

HGN

June 8th, 2012
8:56 am

Michael Turner is , and has been , a great running back. Any team in the league would love to have a back averaging 1,300 yards a season. And he did it with a so-so O-Line.

jay

June 8th, 2012
9:01 am

Someone buy up all the twinkies so Turner can come into the season a few lbs lighter.

yeahsure

June 8th, 2012
9:03 am

It was 790 that said he was overweight coming into camp. I guess i will find out for myself once training camp starts. Can’t wait to get back to Flowery Branch.

Thanks for the clarification D.Led.

I still don’t know why we call him the Burner though. Just because it rhymes with Turner doesnt make it appropriate. When has he ever burned anybody? Plowed them down, but not burned.

AlanFalcon

June 8th, 2012
9:26 am

ScarboroghFan, for once someone hit it right on the head, have to wonder where the rest of this group has been.

Falcfan 68'

June 8th, 2012
9:33 am

D-lED, I guess yeahsure doesn’t remember Turner’s early years with the Chargers when he acquired the moniker…… still in the open field will “burn” it up with a lot more muscle (weight ) than he carried back then……just sayin’……….

Chub Rock

June 8th, 2012
10:09 am

When some of these guys post on a blog they show just how little they know about football. LMAO Michael Turner has only been one of the top 2 or 3 RB’s in the entire league 3 of the last 4 years. Not one single person in this blog calling Turner fat can do what he does on a football field. If you are Falcon fans(which I doubt) then stop hating on the guys that are actually helping the team be successful. Turner carries the football, so for you less informed fans that means he cannot also block for himself. Turner was ranked 3rd in the league last season in spite of a sub par O-line. Turner was called in “Burner” because at 240+ lbs he ran 4.4 forty at the combine and has displayed that speed as a Falcon but some of you were probably getting your face painted during those runs. Some of you eat carrots and rice cakes all day and you will never run a 4.4 forty even at a buck 05.

yeahsure

June 8th, 2012
10:09 am

I actually do remember those years. He got the name in college though… whatever college he went to. which was like a decade ago? I’m actually a big fan of turner. Would love to see him take one to the house this year on a long run. Past few years, he’s always being chased down.

yeahsure

June 8th, 2012
10:11 am

Chub, i think he ran better than a 4.4 if i recall.

Redcoat

June 8th, 2012
10:23 am

I guess SeenThisB4 is gone, haven’t seen any comments…will miss him. Anybody else seen any comments from him?

justin

June 8th, 2012
10:26 am

where can i watch the whole video?

Chub Rock

June 8th, 2012
10:31 am

Point being he was known for his speed at 240+ lbs, thus the nickname “Burner” and not simply because it rhymes with Turner like somebody posted LOL. He is 30 years old now so some of the “Burner” may have left but that is typical due to the pounding these guys take. They are already talking about how MJD has lost some explosion.

**Frederick(Bailey)Douglass**

June 8th, 2012
10:33 am

Interesting. I still believe Turner could be trade bait as we near training camp. Remember, we are VERY YOUNG at Middle Linebacker and could use a big body D-Lineman.

Why sign Snelling, when you had Turner and Rodgers under contract? Something MIGHT give…

Roddy is the first to recognize the obvious. In order for the Falcons to be GREAT in December, they MUST PUSH MATT RYAN in September. He must throw the ball down the field…throw the screen pass, post corner, etc. Remember, in his rookie year he could sling it around pretty good. Mularkey’s coddling has limited him over the years.

The point: Unproven, GREEN players must be developed. PUT THEM OUT THERE. Akeem Dent needs to start game 1. I would rather the Birds be 2-3, with very tough losses that came from Ryan sharpening his craft, than be 5-0 with Turner running the ball 25 times a game. Its not how you win in December and January.

FBD
“Ryan needs to be coached up”

SeenthisB4

June 8th, 2012
10:34 am

Not one comment at all.

[...] Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that even though there’s lots of talk of screen passes and vertical passing, the Falcons [...]

Redcoat

June 8th, 2012
10:38 am

Still nothing from seen and nobody else has either I guess ….

David

June 8th, 2012
10:41 am

I was a falcon fan when most of you but wipes were craping yellow, even you D Led.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
10:45 am

David – I don’t think so David. I’m older than the Falcons.

Jeff B

June 8th, 2012
10:48 am

Way to go D-LED, put those disrespectful “fans” in their place!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
10:49 am

FDB — Good stuff as always. 1) Snelling was signed on the low-low and is a very good insurance policy and special teamer. 2) Agreed. He’s got to take some shots. Even if they are into double coverage. Roddy and Julio have to fight to the ball. 3) Agreed. They have made their deicisions early and went with young players before.

Falcon Jim's stalker should be BANNED

June 8th, 2012
10:49 am

I wish Turner and Quizz a healthy and productive season. It would be great to see a classic thunder and lightning backfield.

Anybody seen Seen? He seems to have disappeared.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
10:51 am

Justin — I just got a few snippets of the interview. One was 1:19. This one 1:39. Dont’ know if anybody has the entire thing.

yeahsure

June 8th, 2012
10:55 am

Coming from a long time falcons fan, fandom isnt measured by length of time. You could be an old timer and still be a bad falcons fan wearing a #7 jersey to games. I see young kids that are crazier fans than me all the time.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
10:57 am

Chub Rock — Preach!!!! Coming out of Northern Illinois, Turner ran a 4.49. He was considered the sixth best running back in the draft. He was projected to go in the second or third round by the NFLDraftScout.com. However, he lasted until the 5th round of the 2004 draft.

Paddy

June 8th, 2012
11:00 am

yeasure…….believe Turner played in the MAC at N.IL.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
11:01 am

yeahsure — I will found out. But coach Gerald Brown told me he was in good shape and so forth. I don’t trust eye-balling guys and then saying he’s light or heavy unless it’s drastic. Turner looks the same.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
11:03 am

Aaron Murray — You need to be worrying about those War Eagles right now.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
11:04 am

tp — The Ice Man has been pumping the steel.

Eddog 45

June 8th, 2012
11:20 am

D-Led——–What about the OL, are their any new stand-out ? With a new OL coach will/are is he changing the blocking schemes ect.

Dr. Warren

June 8th, 2012
11:44 am

Turner’s got a baby face. You think of him as at the cusp of being an “old” running back, but then you forget how young an “old” running back actually is.

tidog

June 8th, 2012
12:08 pm

I believe Matt Ryan adding weight and muscle to his frame will make a world of difference for his play and the teams wins. Better late than never for Matt and I’m glad he’s done something about it. For the height he carries I always thought he was too light in the pants. Good to see him take control over the muscle mass and weight.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

June 8th, 2012
12:13 pm

Dr. Warren — There is the 30-year old rule with running backs. However, Turner will get the benefit of the doublt because he only had 20 carries in year one, 57 carries in year two, 80 carries in year three and 71 carries in year four. He came to the Falcons with 228 carries.