Despite having just 18 carries for the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks last year, few players enter the 2014 NFL season with as much hype as running back Christine Michael. Drafted in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Michael has all of the tools NFL teams look for in a franchise running back. With the size and physicality to run through defenders and the breakaway speed to fly past defensive backs, Michael possesses a stunning skillset rivaled by few.
In fact, several parallels have already been identified between Michael and Minnesota Vikings All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson. While those comparisons are obviously premature in nature – given Michael’s lack of NFL production – it’s a comparison made by several knowledgeable individuals nonetheless.
The most common consensus is that Michael’s explosiveness and potential as an every-down runner is “on-par” with that of Peterson. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean Seattle has the next AP on their roster. Rather, it means Michael has a chance to be truly special if he continues on his current trajectory. In other words, if the young man from Texas A&M is able to maintain his focus and work ethic, then the sky will be the limit.
However, like many who came before him, Michael’s road to stardom is certain to be littered with potential stumbling blocks. Perhaps the most formidable of which – at least in the short-term – will come from Seattle’s starting running back, Marshawn Lynch.
Lynch has been the face of Seattle since his arrival via trade four years ago. Known throughout the fanbase simply as “Beast Mode,” Lynch has been the Seahawks’ catalyst for offensive success, using his hard-nosed running style and absolute brutality as a means of sparking inspiration.
The Seahawks will hope for similar, long-term impacts from Michael and third-year running-mate Robert Turbin. Both backs weigh more than 220 pounds and run with comparable ferocity to Lynch. Additionally, Lynch has hinted toward wanting an extension this preseason, despite the two years remaining on his current contract. As a result, the Pro-Bowl back was a no-show for the start of Seahawks offseason OTA’s.
In response to Lynch’s absence, head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell shamelessly reassured the 12th Man of their continued faith in Michael and Turbin, gushing over their abilities to tote the rock. Shortly thereafter, Lynch returned to the Seahawks Virginia Mason Athletic Center (VMAC) in Renton, stating he would not hold out over his alleged contract dispute. Instead, Lynch decided he would play as a sign of “good faith” to the team in hopes that he will receive an extension.
Regardless of whether Seattle gives Lynch another contract extension, Michael is the running back of the future and will surely demand a larger role within the Seahawks’ offense. Even if management believes in Lynch’s ability to shoulder the workload going forward, it would be wise to delegate certain early-season backfield responsibilities to Michael and Turbin. Doing so will help ensure Lynch’s continued health for playoff time while also allowing the explosive Michael numerous opportunities to learn. That should give coach Carroll the roster balance he has sought ever since being anointed the Savior of the Seahawks.