|Friday, March 8
Turner and Williams should be good fit
By Len Pasquarelli
When considering whether to trade for Ricky Williams, an element that factored into the Miami Dolphins' decision to finally pull the trigger on the deal Friday morning was the presence of Norv Turner, the club's new offensive coordinator.
Erroneously regarded as a passing game guru, Turner is a man who loves to bludgeon opponents with the running game, and Williams is his new human wrecking ball. Turner's preferred method is to get a lead and then use the run to protect it.
Translation: Williams, who averaged 271.3 carries and 1,043 yards during his three seasons in New Orleans, will top those numbers in Miami if he simply stays healthy. Even though Miami failed in its attempt to pry center Olin Kreutz away from the Chicago Bears in free agency, coach Dave Wannstedt is still committed to a physical offense line that knocks defenders off the ball.
And there is noting Turner likes more than that.
"He's a good fit here," said Turner of his newest weapon. "I think he'll like the way we play."
Dating back to 1991, when Turner first became an offensive coordinator in Dallas, his attacks have featured a strong inside rushing game. Over that period, the "feature" back in the Turner-designed offense has averaged 292 rushes and 1,223 yards.
In eight of those 11 seasons, Turner had a 1,200-yard runner, the only exceptions in 1994 when he had to rotate backs as head coach in Washington, and in 1997 and 1998 when an aging Terry Allen combined for only 1,424 yards in two years. Take away those three fallow seasons, and the backs who played under Turner averaged 1,423 yards.
The 1,200-yard mark is significant, because the Dolphins will have to surrender a second-round choice to the Saints in 2003 if Williams reaches the milestone. If he gets to 1,500 rushing yards, the pick becomes a first-rounder.
Certainly the 1,500-yard benchmark is a possibility given the dovetailing of Turner's offense and the skills Williams will bring to the Miami attack. Emmitt Smith averaged 1,587 yards in his first three seasons playing in the Turner offense. Stephen Davis averaged 1,361 yards in his first two years as the Washington starter. At San Diego in 2001, tailback LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 1,236 yards as a rookie, with Turner as the offensive coordinator.
"If you're a guy who likes carrying the ball 25 times (a game), and I think Ricky is, then he will love Norv," said Davis.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.