Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks‘ coaching staff were pretty adamant that they planned on making Christine Michael a bigger part of the offensive equation in 2014. But just how much do we really believe he and Marshawn Lynch will become a two-headed monster as opposed to a Beast Mode attack with a backup again?
Michael might be the featured guy in preseason and even see the field more during the season, but when it comes right down to it a few factors could keep this from being a true dual-attack once the season begins. The first factor is that this might be the final year in Seattle for the Skittles-factor. It’s not a matter of not wanting Marshawn to stay in Seattle for the rest of his career, it’s simply a matter of mullah available and there’s likely not enough unless he takes a serious pay-cut. Based on recent contract disputes, that’s not likely to happen.
That’s likely to mean that even though they’re resting him this offseason the Hawks won’t spare any carries during the season if they don’t have to. The phrase “ride the Beast” just seems to fit all too well doesn’t it? It’s worked to this point.
Not that they would ever purposefully overwork him, but 250-300 carries is where Marshawn happens to be at his best during a given season. He’s the type of back that needs the ball in his hands that much to make the impact he’s paid to make and that’s the recipe that’s made Seattle so successful. Since we’ve not seen him really slow down all that much (if at all), why would you try to get away from that while trying to defend your Super Bowl title? Short answer; you wouldn’t.
In tandem with that thought, while the Seahawks want to get Michael involved enough to be ready to fully carry the load in 2015, saving his legs might also be a good idea if he’s the future of the franchise back there. Third-year knowledge with rookie-fresh legs sounds like a pretty great idea. Michael could have a fairly long career ahead of him after really being saved for the majority of three seasons, if this should go down the way we expect. Remember he wasn’t much of a factor for Texas A&M during his senior seasons because of an offensive coaching and philosophy change.
Another factor is the Seahawks’ schedule, but this could go either way, perhaps being a reason Michael sees more carries toward the end of the regular season as well. Early on the Hawks face some pretty heavy traffic when it comes to Playoff contenders. To get through that test, it makes sense to do what you do best most of the time and Lynch is what the Seahawks do best. The other scheduling factor is the early week 4 bye-week, which means no mid-season rest for what could become tired legs on an aging power-back. That, of course, would work in Michael’s favor if Lynch has any nagging injury problems, but as I mentioned before Lynch seems to get better late in the season around that 250-300 carry mark.
Michael will be replacing Robert Turbin in the backup role and likely is a more explosive option in the screen game. This could add an interesting element of surprise to the Seattle offense. They haven’t really done much ‘finesse’ football since Marshawn arrived, so adding some creative screens against blitzes on 3rd down and medium would expand the offense even further and give defenses one more thing to have to defend. And speaking of Turbin, he’s still a mighty good second option as well on third-and-short situations.
Overall when considering this whole idea, Michael will probably get more 3rd down work, but I don’t see the Hawks straying away from Lynch’s production too much in 2014 unless injuries are a factor. Not enough to call it a two-back attack anyway. There could be a four or five-game stretch somewhere in the middle to end of the season where Michael’s carries see a significant uptick to give Lynch some valuable rest, especially if the Hawks can run away with some games and/or can somehow avoid a dog-fight for home field in the Playoffs.