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Modern-day "Big Three" gives Falcons chance at ultimate success


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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Michael Turner: Can you think of any team in the NFL, other than your Falcons, who -- and we're not even counting your sure-fire Hall-of-Fame tight end -- possess The Quarterback, The Tailback and The Wide Receiver?

"All three?"

One Mississippi ... two Mississippi ... three Mississippi ... four Mississippi ... five Mississippi ...

"I can't think of one off the top of my head."

That's because there aren't any. Not one.

Brett Favre's got Adrian Peterson, but Bernard Berrien isn't quite Roddy White. Tom Brady's got Randy Moss, but you haven't seen too many parallels between Sammy Morris and Turner. Okay, maybe Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco and Cedric Benson, but that might be a push at this point unless Benson stays as hot as he's been. But all things being equal, that's when the Falcons throw out the trump card: tight end Tony Gonzalez.

Anatomy of a Play

William Cooley / Associated Press

The Falcons' high-flying offense is far from simple to master. NFL Films shows you why. More ...

For now, though, let's leave Gonzalez on the outside looking in.

In Ryan, Turner and White, Atlanta has a three-tiered offensive cache that is starting to draw comparisons to Dallas' "Triplets" of Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman. Dallas' version began their careers together at roughly the same time, just like Atlanta's trio.

Turner, a free-agent pickup from San Diego, and Ryan, the No. 3 overall draft pick last season, signed six-year deals with the Falcons in 2008. White, in his fifth season, signed a six-year extension during this training camp.

Like Aikman, Irvin and Smith, White, Turner and Ryan are joined at the highlight reel, but there is a lot more they have to accomplish when it comes to being held in such lofty company.

"We've got a few Super Bowls to win before we get there," said Ryan, citing the three rings apiece for the star-helmeted "Triplets."

Ryan is such a well-versed pro -- and a buzz kill. He's right, of course, but it's hard not to take notice of the track the trio is on.

Turner and White made their first Pro Bowl appearances last season, while Ryan won the NFL's Offensive Rookie of the Year. In the 20 games they've played together, Atlanta has won 14 (3-1 this season). In that span, Turner has rushed for 2,022 yards (323 in 2009) and 22 touchdowns. White has 111 receptions for 1,711 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ryan has completed 347 of 557 for 4,417 yards, 23 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 91.1 passer rating (102.9 this season).

Their rapid pace of production is frightening, as has been their -- and the coaching staff's -- ability to evolve in their short period together.

"We put in a lot of work to get on the same page as quickly as possible," Ryan said. "Playcalling helps out a lot too. When you get good plays called and you see guys running open all the time it makes it a lot easier to produce.

"Part of being a good team is being able to win different ways week in and week out. With Mike in the backfield and an offensive line that can push holes open for him, some teams are going to try and take him away. They do that, we have Roddy on the outside. We're better suited now having guys who've been together for a year."

Turner's rushing totals -- particularly his 3.7 yards-per-carry average -- are down from this point last season, especially since he opened up with a 220-yard, season-opening pillaging of the Lions. Turner, who rushed for 412 yards after four games in 2008, has only gone over 100 yards once this season (105 vs. Carolina).

White also took awhile to get going, but last Sunday he broke out in a major way, shredding the 49ers for a career-high 210-yard game in a wipeout 45-10 victory.

Ryan has been red hot, though. He's completed 82 of 123 passes for 977 yards and seven touchdowns. He and the coaching staff have deciphered the varying defensive approaches to try and limit Turner and/or White, and that's where Gonzalez comes in. Ryan has connected with Gonzalez 19 times for 215 yards and two touchdowns.

"It gives you a clear head that you know you have these good players around you for awhile, and it gives you an opportunity to do something special, maybe not just once," Turner said. "A lot of teams aren't like that so we have to make the most of this opportunity."

And Turner isn't patient, either.

"This is our window, this year or next year" he said. "We just got to make it happen now, and I hope everybody realizes that too. I know this team is going to work hard, regardless. We need to realize that we got something special, but we can't take anything for granted."

Atlanta, which lost in the wild-card round to Arizona last season, trails undefeated New Orleans by a game in the NFC South. The Falcons play host to Chicago Sunday night in a game featuring two of the league's better teams and a pair of its brightest young quarterbacks.

It was Ryan's poised and precise throw in the waning seconds in Atlanta's come-from-behind victory over the Bears last season that brought him -- and these modern-day Falcons -- of age.

As Atlanta coach Mike Smith pointed out, they are a different team -- younger on defense, more diverse on offense -- but the three points of pressure in White, Ryan and Turner, remain the same.

"You've got three good players that are young that have already been effective," the Smith said. "We anticipate they're going to be around for awhile and continue to play as efficiently as they have. [The front office] has provided us with players."

Smith, who tries so hard not to say anything significant of note while kindly handling his media obligations, hung on those final words. And smiled.

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I love Ryan, Turner, and White but they've got a LONG way to go to even come close to Dallas' 90's triplet.

It's a similar comparison in that they are balanced, but that's about as far as it goes. Ironically the youngest (Ryan) may come closest to matching up. Turner is a **** of a RB, but he's not Emmitt Smith. What is Smith, the all time leading NFL rusher? C'mon.

And White is fast and somewhat physical, but he doesn't consistently dominate defenders the way Irvin used to do. Irvin consistently beat the best CBs in the league. Deion Sanders...Darell Greene....etc...

Before it's said and done, Ryan may outdo Aikman. I'm not so sure about the other two though.

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I love Ryan, Turner, and White but they've got a LONG way to go to even come close to Dallas' 90's triplet.

It's a similar comparison in that they are balanced, but that's about as far as it goes. Ironically the youngest (Ryan) may come closest to matching up. Turner is a **** of a RB, but he's not Emmitt Smith. What is Smith, the all time leading NFL rusher? C'mon.

And White is fast and somewhat physical, but he doesn't consistently dominate defenders the way Irvin used to do. Irvin consistently beat the best CBs in the league. Deion Sanders...Darell Greene....etc...

Before it's said and done, Ryan may outdo Aikman. I'm not so sure about the other two though.

But they are the closest to it in the NFL at the moment and I think that was more the idea of the article.

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"This is our window, this year or next year" he said. "We just got to make it happen now, and I hope everybody realizes that too. I know this team is going to work hard, regardless. We need to realize that we got something special, but we can't take anything for granted."

This is interesting

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I love Ryan, Turner, and White but they've got a LONG way to go to even come close to Dallas' 90's triplet.

It's a similar comparison in that they are balanced, but that's about as far as it goes. Ironically the youngest (Ryan) may come closest to matching up. Turner is a **** of a RB, but he's not Emmitt Smith. What is Smith, the all time leading NFL rusher? C'mon.

And White is fast and somewhat physical, but he doesn't consistently dominate defenders the way Irvin used to do. Irvin consistently beat the best CBs in the league. Deion Sanders...Darell Greene....etc...

Before it's said and done, Ryan may outdo Aikman. I'm not so sure about the other two though.

if you compare their best seasons they're not nearly as far off as one would think.

the biggest difference is that they did it over a long period of time and our guys are just getting started. and the fact that they got 3 rings like the article said.

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Once again Deion Sanders is trying to inject Venom into our team.

Now Wyche is unwittingly copying Sanders.

Our Team is not about the Big Three, Triplets our any other

players.

This is about TEAM.

Once a player starts reading and believing the he is A Big 3

or any other nonsense like that, will be the start of the end.

To Wyche and Sanders:

Just GO AWAY and Leave our TEAM Alone.

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I love the read and all, but they are wrong regarding us being the only one's out there. There are a lot with the trifecta, and some with the TE to boot.

Indy - Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai, and Dallas Clark

NO - Brees, Colston, Thomas, Shockey

SD - Rivers, Jackson, Tomlinson, Gates

NYG - Manning, Smith, Jacobs, Boss (TE not in the league with the others, but they still have the big 3)

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Even though I despise the Cowhoes, I actually like that comparison with the Big Three of Aikman, Emmit, and Irvin. I did at least have respect for that Cowgirls team back in the day. As far as those other teams- Addai, Pierre Thomas, Tomlinson (not anymore), and Jacobs can't are nowhere near Turner's league. I can't remember any of them coming close to win a MVP award (except for L.T. and he is a shell of himself right now). And I don't think any of these players will be affected by hearing any of this. The staff of Mike Smith and TD have too much savvy and too good a grip on the "culture" of this team to let such nonsense permeate this group of players. I see nothing wrong with the compliment, every team is about "team" but they'll always be "stars" on a team. The Big Three from that Dallas team didn't obviously play defense and they won multiple Superbowls so of course it was more than about them. I think its cool to see some positive pub about these guys for a change.

Edited by DBFever2
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Even though I despise the Cowhoes, I actually like that comparison with the Big Three of Aikman, Emmit, and Irvin. I did at least have respect for that Cowgirls team back in the day. As far as those other teams- Addai, Pierre Thomas, Tomlinson (not anymore), and Jacobs can't are nowhere near Turner's league. I can't remember any of them coming close to win a MVP award (except for L.T. and he is a shell of himself right now). And I don't think any of these players will be affected by hearing any of this. The staff of Mike Smith and TD have too much savvy and too good a grip on the "culture" of this team to let such nonsense permeate this group of players. I see nothing wrong with the compliment, every team is about "team" but they'll always be "stars" on a team. The Big Three from that Dallas team didn't obviously play defense and they won multiple Superbowls so of course it was more than about them. I think its cool to see some positive pub about these guys for a change.

I agree with you regarding Turner being better than all of them. And as big of a fan I am of Ryan and Roddy, I can't say they are in Peyton's (actually did win MVP, twice I think) and Wayne's (multiple Pro Bowls) leagues yet. You have a couple of Superbowl winning QB's in that list as well. You can't discount their big 3 because their back is not better than ours, they still have 3 solid if not elite players at all 3 positions.

I wouldn't trade our 3 for their 3.

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I love the read and all, but they are wrong regarding us being the only one's out there. There are a lot with the trifecta, and some with the TE to boot.

Indy - Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai, and Dallas Clark - addai is not nearly close to turner. he hasn't had a season where he's had the rush yds

NO - Brees, Colston, Thomas, Shockey - again thomas is not nearly close to turner. he's never even ran for 1,000. remember turner went for 1,699 17 TDs last year.

SD - Rivers, Jackson, Tomlinson, Gates - jackson has not had a year close to roddy's last year, whether you're talking catches or yds. tomlinson hasn't done much since 07. he was great for a while, but as of now, turner's better.

NYG - Manning, Smith, Jacobs, Boss (TE not in the league with the others, but they still have the big 3) - close, but for as good as smith has been this year the giants have played some crappy defenses. i'd say they are the closest even though jacobs have never had close to turner's 1,699.

guys, what they're saying is as far as production goes, there is NO big 3 in the league close to ours. talking about a rookie qb who was 11th in pass yds last year, a WR that was 4th in rec yds (1,382) and a back who was 2nd in rushing (1,699 17 TDs).

you won't see a big 3 with that kind of production.

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