Who are the Top 5 Running Backs of All-Time for the Falcons?

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 15: Running back Gerald Riggs #42 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes for yards past linebacker Todd Shell #90, defensive back Carlton Williamson #21 and Dwight Hicks #22 of the San Francisco 49ers during a game at Candlestick Park on September 15, 1985 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won 35-16. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 15: Running back Gerald Riggs #42 of the Atlanta Falcons rushes for yards past linebacker Todd Shell #90, defensive back Carlton Williamson #21 and Dwight Hicks #22 of the San Francisco 49ers during a game at Candlestick Park on September 15, 1985 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won 35-16. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images) /
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44. Scouting Report. 2008-2012, Northern Illinois. Michael Turner. 1. player. Pick Analysis. RB

Michael “The Burner” Turner was a monster of a man when he came to Atlanta. Although not the tallest, I often called him tree because his thighs were the size of tree trunks. He could easily run through any player on the field and can even throw his own players when they’re in his way!

His strength always amazed me but many people had questions about Turner when the Falcons picked him up before the 2008 season. After 4 seasons in San Diego where he only had 1,257 yards and 6 touchdowns, Turner came into Atlanta with a rookie quarterback and he dominated. That 2008 season in which Turner had a career-high 376 carries, a career-high 1,699 yards, and a career-high 17 touchdowns was the best I had ever seen from a Falcon. I credit he and Matt Ryan for saving our franchise as both of them led us to the playoffs after one of the worst years ever for the Falcons.

ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 18: Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons carries the ball against Jonathan Vilma #41 of the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome on November 29, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 18: Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons carries the ball against Jonathan Vilma #41 of the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome on November 29, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /

In only 5 seasons with Atlanta, Michael Turner 1,411 carries for 6081 yards and 60 touchdowns. While his attempts and yards are behind Riggs there are a few reasons I put him ahead. The first reason is the yards per carry and yards per game. Riggs (and Andrews) played in a more run-first NFL and Giggs still had 9 fewer yards per game and .1 yards less per carry. They are slim margins but for Turner to have the numbers he did even with one of the best WRs and QBs the Falcons have ever seen is extremely impressive. The second reason is the touchdowns. Turner was an absolute touchdown machine, scoring 60 touchdowns in 75 games, while Riggs only scored 48 touchdowns in 91 games. The third and final reason is the fumbles. Even though Turner was a very physical back, Turner only averaged a fumble every 5 games while Riggs averaged a fumble every 2.8 games.

ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 20: Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons hurdles over Michael Griffin #33 of the Tennessee Titans at Georgia Dome on November 20, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – NOVEMBER 20: Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons hurdles over Michael Griffin #33 of the Tennessee Titans at Georgia Dome on November 20, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

These are minute reasons for separation and both players are historically good but Turner gets the nod for me at number one because of the reasons above and that he was a winner. Every team Turner played on in Atlanta won 9 or more games.

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That’s the most successful stretch for a Falcons running back (minimum 3 years) ever. Turner was a major reason for the success of Atlanta during his time here and eventually will earn a Falcons Ring Of Honor designation.