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Is Falcons new RB Steven Jackson an upgrade from Michael Turner?


It didn't come as a huge shock with the Atlanta Falcons released running back Michael Turner after 9 seasons.  What was maybe a little surprising is that they turned around and signed another 9 year NFL veteran in Steven Jackson from the St. Louis Rams...so much for a youth movement as the feature tailback.

The Falcons do have Jacquizz Rodgers, but he's primarily a passing and screen back, and at 5'6" there's little chance of him being the workhorse.

Turner was admirable after his release saying "This is a tough business but I understand its nature and respect the process."  But how much of an improvement can Steven Jackson be? Let's look at some statistics and see how close they are.

Analysis: Almost identical last 5 seasons

Rushing first downs % is a running back's ability to convert first downs compared to their rushing attempts, higher is obviously better.

Analysis: Very Close

Analysis: Almost identical last 5 seasons

Earlier in their careers, Jackson had Marc Bulger while Turner had Ladianian Tomlinson to play second fiddle to.  It makes sense that Turner would see lower production because of future hall of famer Tomlinson, meanwhile Jackson would be over inflated for his first few years from all the Marc Bulger screen and dump passes (thanks to the Mike Martz pass happy open-up offensive system).

In the last 5 seasons it's pretty impressive to see both of their production levels move in lock-step, it's virtually a no contest between the two.  What's also interesting is that in the last 5 seasons both guys each missed just 5 games.  But the most concerning is the general trend, from an efficiency/production standpoint,  they have both declined each of the last 5 seasons.

Statistics never tell the whole story, the human element can't be forgotten, but it's pretty uncanny how similar of careers these guys have had.  The only explanation left is of course...money.  According to Spotrac.com Jackson has a total cap hit of $2,916,666 this year versus the $8,900,000 to Turner, but that would have surely been restructured if the Falcons really wanted him back.



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