The End Of Beast Mode? Not So Fast
When the Seahawks acquired running back Christine Michael with their first pick in this year's draft, they surprised quite a few people. Seattle GM John Schneider weighed in after Michael’s pick: “He’s our kind of runner ... He’s a tough, intense, up-field, one-cut guy ... A very good football player.”
Pete Carroll’s team appeared to be stacked at the running back position, with Marshawn Lynch coming off a stellar season, and backups Michael Robinson and Robert Turbin always ready to contribute.
The Seahawks made it to the divisional round of the playoffs by relying heavily on their rushing abilities, and not much is set to change from last year. Looking closely at the numbers, Seattle recorded the most rushing attempts in the league (536), they ranked third behind Washington and Minnesota for total number of rushing yards (2,579) and Lynch placed third for total rushing yards (1,590).
If the offensive unit put up these huge numbers last year, why take another running back?
“We want this position loaded up," Carroll told reporters. "The chance to get another good, strong, tough guy like he, just adds to the theme of what we’re trying to present as a team.” Like much of the NFC West, the Seahawks are a team built around running the ball. By adding a young back like Michael, the Seahawks are giving Lynch some much-needed breathing room. If Carroll and the team management intend on having Lynch play at exorbitant levels for many years to come, they need a quality backup to avoid overusing him.
Despite missing just one game in the last two seasons, Lynch’s problematic back is a well-documented issue. He suffered from recurring back spasms throughout his career, and missed a good chunk of the 2010 season in Buffalo. Lynch could see his numbers decrease with the introduction of the new running-back rule, which forbids helmet-to-helmet contact. His ability to deliver strong hits and gain yards after contact may suffer and lead to more snaps for Turbin and Michael.
That being said, Lynch remains one of the top 5 running backs in the NFL and he's going to be a threat to any team's defense as long as he stays healthy. Michael has a chance to learn from one of the best players in the league and eventually develop into a great player but, for now, get ready to see Lynch explode for another 1,000-plus per year. Expect nothing less from a strong, physical running back that will thrive, as competition for a starting position becomes fiercer.
Beast Mode isn’t done yet — and can still be the difference-maker for Seattle on the field.