He doesn’t have a catchy moniker like “Beast Mode.” He’s not part of the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom. And he isn’t showered with Skittles each time he scores at CenturyLink Field.
But if you have not yet heard of Christine Michael, you will remember his name by the end of the upcoming season.
Don’t believe me?
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“(Michael is) somebody we’re really excited about,” Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said last week. “He’s really matured … he’s on the details, he’s doing the little things that we need our running backs to do.”
After giving him only 18 carries in 2013, Bevell is ready to take the training wheels off Michael, whose star potential oozes from his 5-foot-10, 221-pound frame. It’s precisely why Bevell is now considering a “running back by committee” approach, splitting carries between Michael and incumbent starter Marshawn Lynch.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who activated Michael for just four games last season, confirmed that big things are indeed in store for the second-year thumper.
“We have very high expectations for him. He’s going to get a ton of work,” Carroll said, via CBSSports.com. “He’s just a million miles ahead of where he was in terms of understanding what we want scheme-wise, pass protection-wise, route-wise and we know he’s a natural runner. He’s got explosive talent and we just want to get him to fit in.”
Before we look ahead, let’s take a peek back and explore why Bevell and Carroll (and yours truly) are raving about Michael.
Emerging from Texas A&M a bit under the radar, Michael dropped jaws at the 2013 NFL Combine. His 43-inch vertical, cone time of 6.69 seconds, and shuttle time of 4.02 were the highest among running backs. He placed ninth with a 4.43 forty, which isn’t blazing fast, but a solid complement to his punishing downhill running style.
The Seahawks thought enough of Michael to select him with their second-round pick (No. 62 overall), thrusting him into competition with Robert Turbin, another promising back, for the right to back up Lynch.
Neither player really established themselves. Michael rushed for 79 yards on his aforementioned 18 totes, fading into relative obscurity as Seattle went on to win Super Bowl XLVIII.
Carroll explained that Michael’s transition to the NFL was rockier than anticipated.
“It’s hard for guys that have been star players to come in and have to fit into a backup position and understand how you’ve got to focus and study,” Carroll said, via SportspressNW.com. “Just regular rookie stuff is really what he had to get through.”
Now in Year 2, Michael seems much more well-adjusted, opening eyes during the team’s Organized Team Activities this offseason in the same way he did at the Combine.
Lynch needs to take notice and feel his seat start to get a little warmer. The starting job still is his, but he’s unlikely to endure another 300-carry campaign. Not with a fresh-legged, 23-year-old stud waiting in the wings.
That the Seahawks admitted their interest in a by-committee backfield plainly speaks to the level of confidence they have in Michael — and perhaps sends a message to Lynch, who reportedly could be on the chopping block in 2015.
As beloved as Lynch is, he’s not the future at running back for the Seahawks. Whether Michael can be The Guy also remains to be seen, but he’s going to be given every opportunity to succeed.
And if he does, I promise not to say, “I told ya so.”