Undersized but Not Undermanned
Hopefully you are aware of Taylor Gabriel (aka “Turbo” Taylor) the speedy wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. The nickname itself screams speed. The moves Gabriel is able to make on the field feels like someone mashed the “turbo” button on a Xbox controller as Gabriel zooms down the field, juking defenders all the way to the end zone.
Gabriel’s touchdown highlight reel from 2016 includes various defenders on their heels trying to anticipate Gabriel’s next move. They guess wrong. See ya! Spinning in circles, tackling air, as well as only seeing the back of the #18 jersey were the results experienced by many opposing defenders in a breakout year for Gabriel.
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Not Too Shabby
Gabriel was originally an undrafted free agent wide receiver by the Cleveland Browns in 2014. It’s remarkable that the Browns, desperate for playmakers, weren’t able to find a place for him on their 2016 roster.
Gabriel parlayed a great 2016 season into signing a second round tender deal paying him $2.8 million. That’s a pretty solid payday for a second string receiver, but Gabriel is anything but second rate.
The “stretch the field” threat he imposed on NFL defenses was key to the Falcons on field success last season. Gabriel truly defied the odds coming into a season as a released player whom the Falcons claimed off waivers, becoming a huge contributor to his new team that very same year. Think about it: No OTAs. No off season practices. No time working with his new QB in Matt Ryan.
The advantage Gabriel did have in being able to be so impactful in his first season with Atlanta was having a previous relationship with former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, working in a similar offense with him in Cleveland before. I do believe Shanahan was a key component in putting a bug in Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn’s ear on bringing in Gabriel to Atlanta once he was released by the Browns. Shanahan knew Gabriel’s talent firsthand, and was also responsible for bringing him to Cleveland initially as a undrafted free agent, so the story goes.
Gabriel should only continue to flourish in Atlanta in 2017. New Falcons’ offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will provide ample opportunity for “Turbo” Taylor to be a key cog in Atlanta’s offense. Sark will have an itchy finger on the “turbo button” ready to show off his version of this vital weapon.
I can’t wait for the first shake n’ bake touchdown in 2017, or rain drop throw by Ryan over the top of the defense hitting Gabriel in stride on his way to the end zone.