When All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch was ruled out of Thursday night’s preseason game against the Denver Broncos, there was no question as to who the featured back would be for the Seattle Seahawks.
Yes, Robert Turbin saw a majority of the reps when Seattle’s first-team offense was on the field, but we all know the Seahawks were looking to showcase second-year running back Christine Michael.
This should come as no surprise based on the fact Michael has been the talk of the Pacific Northwest since offseason workouts began back in April. And the good news is Michael didn’t disappoint in his first preseason appearance of the year.
In addition to scoring a touchdown from one yard out, Michael rattled off an eight-yard run and caught three passes for 12 yards. Sure, his 2.3 yards-per-carry average was a bit worrisome, yet his performance went beyond his stat line.
Michael showed a quick first step, soft hands out of the backfield and impressive vision when running north and south. Honestly, what more could the Seahawks’ coaching staff ask for? Apparently, not a whole lot considering Michael’s showing reinforced how dominant the Seahawks’ running game can be in 2014.
And to think, Seattle’s backfield did it without Lynch in the lineup. Just imagine what things will look like when he does return. His legs will be fresh. His confidence will be sky-high thanks to his pay increase. And he will be determined to perform with Michael on his heals.
Even though Lynch is a long ways away from being in football shape, wide receiver Doug Baldwin alluded to the fact that this team couldn’t go where it wanted to go without him.
“Just to see his jersey number 24 is special to all of us,’’ said Baldwin, via Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times. “He carries the team on his back literally, so we are excited to have him back.’’
Of course Baldwin and the Seahawks are excited to have him back. Not only does Lynch’s presence mean the Seahawks have one of the most potent backfields again, but it also means they have the focal point of their offense back.
Let’s not forget, the passing game runs through him as well. If Lynch isn’t doing his job on first and second down, quarterback Russell Wilson and the wide receiving corps can’t do their jobs on third down. It’s as simple as that.
Moving forward, the Seahawks are going to have to find a way to get all of their moving pieces involved. Despite the fact the temptation might be there to play Michael and Turbin, Seattle has to remember that Lynch is the bell cow for now.
Michael and Turbin will get their fair share of opportunities when Lynch leaves Seattle. That’s not to say an up-and-comer like Michael doesn’t deserve a chance to make an impact, because he does.
Head coach Pete Carroll has to be careful. The last thing Coach Carroll can afford to do is upset Lynch. Upsetting Lynch could cause him to lose focus, which, in turn, would be detrimental to the team.
Nevertheless, the Seahawks have a problem 31 other teams wish they had. Having too many good running backs is never a bad thing. Seattle’s coaching staff will just have to make sure it shows proper balance on game days.