Christine Michael has looked great in training camp, but it is his newfound maturity that will lead to him finally helping the Seahawks on the field.
Christine Michael will make the Seahawks roster.
There’s no hedge it in that statement. No “should, and no “as long as he keeps this up.” None. He will be on the 53 man roster.
More from 12th Man Rising
- 4 prospects Seahawks could reach for at No. 20 in 2023 NFL Draft
- Seattle Seahawks Mock Draft: Post-first wave of free agency
- Seahawks podcast: A review of the first week of free agency
- 4 experiments the Seattle Seahawks could cut short in 2023
- 3 pros and cons of Seattle Seahawks drafting Anthony Richardson
If that seems like a rare “hot take” from me, well,
. I understand that there are a lot of moving parts, and that keeping Michael means both keeping a 4th RB on the roster and cutting a daft pick at the position.
None of that will stop him from making the roster; not this year.
He’s been clearly the best RB in training camp, and no one else has been close. Sure, Rawls and Procise haven’t been practicing because of injuries, but Michael has been significantly better than Brooks, Collins, and the camp bodies they’ve had to bring in because of the injuries.
The bigger news though is what has happened in camp when it wasn’t his turn to get reps. Michael is no longer off my himself and not paying attention like in past seasons. Instead, Michael has been focussed, and discussing things with his teammates.
He’s also taken on the role of the leader of the position room. He’s made it a point to work with the younger guys, and to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes he made during his first tenure with Seattle.
There is simply a new maturity in Christine Michael. He’s grown and learned, and is essentially a different person than he was in previous seasons. He’s always been physically gifted, but now he’s finally not getting in his own way.
Of course, none of this would matter if it didn’t translate to better results on the field. Take a look at the game tape from last Saturday, and it is obvious that it has.
Michael has greatly improved his ability to read and anticipate blocks. In a zone blocking scheme like Seattle’s, it is essential that the back be able to recognize where the hole will be, even if it isn’t there when he first gets the ball.
Take a look at this first play. When Michael gets the ball, there is a nice hole in the B gap, but it won’t be there by the time Michael gets to the line. Instead he reads that Ifedi will push the DT wide, and that’ll open up a hole in the A gap.
Michael commits to the A gap even before the gap materializes. This allows him to hit the line cleanly, and able to cut away from the linebackers for extra yards.
This is play that Michael likely wouldn’t have made in the past. He would have either run up into the clogged B gap, or tried to bounce the entire play outside.
When he’s finally fully healthy, Thomas Rawls will be the lead back in Seattle once again. Rawls is simply an ideal zone-blocking runner in many ways.
That doesn’t mean that Michael cannot carve out a role though. Rawls simply doesn’t have Michael’s speed, which makes Michael a perfect counter-punch to bring in whenever Rawls heads to the sideline.
I’ve seen some criticism of this play that basically equates to “Rawls would have never stepped out of bounds like that.” This criticism is valid. It is also true that Rawls would have never made it around the corner like that.
The two backs are simply completely different styles of runners. Michael’s ability to turn a 1-2 yard gain into a 9-yard gain using his speed made this a great play, whether he decided to punish a defender or not.
Balance and Power
Michael’s ability to “get skinny” and fit through a hole that wasn’t really there on the play below was a thing of beauty.
The key here is that he followed his blocking, kept his balance through contact and broke a tackle. The Chiefs played his run well, but it didn’t matter. Michael’s willingness to trust his teammates, combined with his own unique physical talents, is what made this run happen.
The talent has always been there. The trust hasn’t been. That is why we’re seeing a new Christine Michael this season.