Will Hawks get Michael more playing time in 2014?
It certainly is a luxury to be in the Seahawks‘ shoes from a personnel standpoint right now, but with a deep roster comes some other challenges such as getting guys playing time.
One of the more overlooked, yet deep positions for the Hawks currently is running back. I think we overlook it because Marshawn Lynch has been so dominate and durable the past couple of years. With Lynch signed for two more seasons at a relatively reasonable rate of $5.5 Million, playing time will continue being a challenge for those behind him.
Let’s take a closer look at the two guys behind Lynch on the depth chart.
Turbo, a.k.a. Robert Turbin, is the main backup behind Lynch. He’s the guy who will allow Lynch to get a rest after a big play or to have a series off during a game here or there.
In 2013, Turbin appeared in all 16 regular season games. He carried the ball 77 times for 264 yards. That gives him a 3.4 yards-per-rush average, which is respectable.
Running-style-wise he’s very powerful with similarities to Lynch. He runs angrily, perhaps with not quite as much power as Beastmode, but I’d say he’s a couple steps faster running north/south than Lynch. He also has no issues with fumbles when rushing the ball.
It’s easy to see why Turbin is such a good fit as Lynch’s backup. He’s very similar to Lynch, and the offense doesn’t have to change anything when Turbin comes into the game.
Pronounced “Kris-ten,” Christine Michael was drafted by the Seahawks in 2013 during the second round. We saw him a bit more during preseason, but during the regular season, he appeared in just four ball games.
In those four games, he rushed the ball 18 times for 79 yards. That’s a highly respectable average-per-carry of 4.4 yards. Watching the guy run the few times that we did, though, you can see why he was drafted in the early rounds.
Michael is not the same type of runner as Lynch or Turbin. Yes, he can run with a bit of power, but this guy hits the hole faster than anyone I’ve seen in a long time. If he gets through that initial wave of defenders, he could easily be gone. His acceleration after taking the handoff is downright spooky.
The problem that this creates is that in a zone-blocking scheme, which Seattle uses regularly in its run game, the running back has to be a bit more patient. This is something that Michael has not proven he’s very good at just yet.
Now, it’s obviously waaaaaay too early in his career to hold that against him, but I do think that’s why you didn’t see a lot of Michael in 2013. I do have a couple of theories, though, on how he might see more playing time in 2014.
Playing time scenarios
— NFL: AroundTheLeague (@NFL_ATL) February 28, 2014
One of things that comes to mind for a guy like Michael, who has the nifty feet and great speed, is to let him return punts. Golden Tate has held that job for a while now, but he is an unrestricted free agent.
The Seattle has been waiting to get a bigger receiver to compliment its smaller guys like Percy Harvin and Doug Baldwin. Tate might not be back, meaning someone must return punts; I like the idea of Michael getting that opportunity.
Another scenario could be trading Turbin. Obviously, this moves Michael up the depth chart and would give him the chance to spell Lynch and play much more regularly.
The problem with this is that a trade is easier said than done. Turbin is signed for cheap for two more seasons, and unless the trade is for a draft pick, Seattle might not want to let go of an affordable player.
The final scenario might be to wait it out another year and take a look at what Lynch has left in the tank going into the 2015 season. Lynch’s $6 million salary for 2015 might not look as attractive if he begins to slow down a bit or winds up injured in 2014.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens at this spot for the next couple of years. Stay tuned!