run the football and that I think is very, very important,” Smith said. “That is something we’ve stressed from day one when Thomas (Dimitroff) and I were hired and we said we were going to be a physical football team.
“I think our guys had a good game plan,” Smith said. “Offensively we committed ourselves to running the football. We talked all week about that and that’s what we wanted to do. It’s really enjoyable as a coach to see a game plan executed that way.”
With the departure of Warrick Dunn, the Falcons looked to bolster their backfield by adding Turner. Even though he backed up arguably the league’s most dominant running back, Turner showed on several occasions he possesses big play ability. As a Charger, he recorded several long runs when given an opportunity including touchdown scores of 74 and 83 yards. This year, Turner already has a 66yard run for a touchdown and Sunday he again showed explosiveness as he broke a 38-yard run over the left side during the Falcons’ first scoring drive.
Turner isn’t doing it all on his own. White, who caught a 70-yard touchdown pass from Ryan in the first quarter to give the Falcons an early 14-0 lead, is emerging as a legitimate No. 1 receiver.
“I think Roddy (White) has the skill set no doubt, to be an outstanding receiver in this league,” Smith said. “The thing Roddy has really bought into is what Mike Mularkey and Terry Robiskie are selling and that’s that we are going to block with our wide receivers. If we are going to run the football, our receivers are going to have to block.”
On the play, White split the corner and safety on a post route and Ryan showed off his arm as he hit his receiver in stride.
“I thought Roddy played really well,” Ryan said. “He made a couple of critical catches. The one in the red zone comes to mind where he went outside and came back in. He took a pretty good shot on that one but that’s what your big time receivers have to do.”
The offensive line opened up some big holes for both Turner and Jerious Norwood who finished with 75 yards on 11 carries. In all, the Falcons rushed for 186 yards on 36 carries. Perhaps more important though, Ryan had time to throw the ball and he didn’t have to pressure his throws too often.
“On the touchdown pass, that was all him (White),” Ryan said. “I mentioned the offensive line did a great job opening holes, but I don’t think I got hit all day. That’s a credit to those guys up front. They did a great job with protections. Todd McClure does a great job to get everyone on the same page and I thought he did such a great job today. He keeps everyone up there together and they did a great job.”
The Falcons now sit in a virtual tie for the division lead and travel to Carolina Sunday for a division match up with the Panthers. Smith said the team will look at the things it did well and look to shore up the areas it needs to improve on before Sunday.
“I’m excited about being 21.” Smith said. “We have a lot of things we need to clean up across the board but we look forward to watching the tape and it’s easier to make corrections with a win. Next Sunday can’t get here quick enough.”