Turner's poor decision has cast a negative light on himself as well as his Falcons team, who should be focusing on their impressive defensive performance against Denver. Atlanta is off to a quick 2-0 start this season despite Turner's early-season struggles.
Nearly three weeks into the regular season, the 30-year-old veteran has been more of a detriment than a key component for the Falcons. Turner was averaging just 2.6 yards per carry when he was arrested Tuesday morning.
That's not to say that Turner's choice would have been any more forgivable if he was playing well, but at least he would be contributing to the Falcons' cause in some sense rather than bringing them down.
With just 74 yards heading into Week 3, Turner is far off his 2010 and 2011 pace. Turner rushed for more than 1,300 yards and over 10 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons, but entered his 30s last February and has since failed to recreate his past success this fall.
To put his dismal start into perspective, quarterback Matt Ryan is averaging nearly twice as many yards per carry as Turner after two weeks.
With second-year running back Jacquizz Rodgers on pace to carry the ball 80 times this season, the 5'6" speedster out of Oregon State could eventually earn the confidence of the coaching staff and step in for Turner. If not, don't be surprised if Atlanta drafts a running back in the early rounds next April, or makes a move to acquire a young back through free agency.
Either way, Michael Turner is not long for Atlanta, and his latest slip up has only minimized his room for error with the Falcons.
We all know what happens to NFL running backs once they reach age 30; they decline. There is no running or hiding from it. Few if any veteran backs are ever as productive as even less skilled rookies. The position requires speed, toughness and—let's face it—youth.
Turner is in his ninth season and has carried the ball nearly 1,500 times over the course of his career. Although his DUI arrest is shocking, his poor performance thus far should come as little surprise to NFL fans.
Regardless of whether Turner's uncharacteristic play influenced his poor decision on Tuesday morning, his struggles to contribute positively to the Falcons will ultimately cost him his job.
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