Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Turner, Roddy constrained by Gonzo?
Word out of Atlanta is that newly acquired TE Tony Gonzalez is being integrated so fully into the Falcons' offensive scheme that he has become QB Matt Ryan's "hot read" on blitzes. Last year, Roddy White played that role.
According to D. Orlando Ledbetter -- a writer for the Atlanta Constitution who might just be a little pretentious for a sports columnist -- Roddy was targeted on a third of Ryan's passes in 2008. He projects that will fall to around 25% due to Gonzo's presence.
D. Orlando also expects Turner's carries to be reduced from the astronomical (and league-leading) 377 rushes to something in the neighborhood of 270-280. That's a huge (25%-ish) cut. D projects that Jerious Norwood will pick up much of the slack.
Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I sounded the alarm on Turner a couple of months ago when I selected Matt Forte with the second overall draft pick in the Sporting News experts draft. Sure, Turner is a stud, and a very worthy first-round pick. But don't expect him to carry as much of the load in 2009 as he did last season, when the team was letting its rookie QB get comfortable under center. Turner also isn't a contributor as a receiver. Expect more passing -- especially with Gonzo's addition -- with a healthy, but somewhat reduced, dose of Turner from the suddenly high-octane Atlanta offense.
By the way, don't expect Gonzo to match his position-leading stats (96 rec, 1,058 yards, 10 TDs) from 2008, either. He won't be the No. 1 target as he was in KC, he likely will take some time to get comfortable with his new team, and he turns 33 this season. Oh yeah...the team says they plan to use him in more of a blocking role than the Chiefs did, too.
Top 5 TE? Sure. But it's a safe bet that Gates, Witten and possibly even Dallas Clark will out-perform him in '09.