Slow your roll on Christine Michael
The hype around Seahawks running back Christine Michael this preseason has gotten a little out of hand.
OK, I get it………
Christine Michael has had a good preseason. Through the first three games he’s racked up 157 yards on 24 carries, good for 6.5 average yards per carry.
But the way many Seahawk fans and some analysts are telling it, Michael is the second coming of Barry Sanders.
Stuff like this has been common the last couple weeks….
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) August 25, 2016
Let’s just slow the roll on how “great” Christine Michael has been.
He’s been productive, yes, and his improvement as a person and a player since being cut and resigned in Seattle are well documented. He picks up blitzes better, he works harder in practice, and he now switches the ball and carries it in both hands.
But he’s still a severely flawed running back.
Here are his “highlights” from the Dallas game:
Attention Fantasy owners…
Christine Michael says, "Draft me!"
— NFL (@NFL) August 26, 2016
Michael is fast, and once he makes a cut he’s quick to get to full speed and go. Those are good things.
The bad thing about Michael is the same bad thing that soured me on him his first two years in Seattle; he lacks the ability to finish or extend runs once he sees contact coming. Notice in the first and final plays of that highlight clip. Michael anticipates contact coming, wraps both arms around the ball, and dives forward. In essence he’s giving up on the run. This is something I noticed on his college tape and time and time again during his first go-round as a Seahawk.
For context, here’s how Thomas Rawls does it:
This is why Thomas Rawls is going straight in the starting lineup. pic.twitter.com/SQFcM5xHZq
— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) August 31, 2016
It’s a simple little inside run. Not a huge gain. Won’t look great in the stat sheet. But Rawls instinctively anticipates the contact coming, absorbs it, keeps his balance and makes another 4-5 yards out of nothing.
On this same play, Michael would have likely been dead in the backfield.
I’m not saying Michael isn’t a viable NFL running back. He’s come a long way and deserves regular season carries. He’ll start the season splitting carries with Rawls until the team is confident Rawls is 100% recovered from his ankle injury.
He’ll contribute to the Seahawks this season, but let’s slow the “great Christine Michael” talk. There’s actually a decent chance that by midseason, rookie C.J. Prosise ends up getting more snaps per game than Michael.