If you are like me, the 2012 NFL season was just a tease. Our Seattle Seahawks became "elite" in the eyes of people far from the luscious greens of the Pacific Northwest, far from the home of the 12th man. The fans of Seattle are as loyal and passionate as any fan base in professional sports. In fact, it is probably this loyalty which leaves me longing for Sunday afternoons instead of wallowing in self-pity over an aspiring Oklahoma City basketball team which shall remain nameless. Yes, 2012 was just a tease. A taste of what is sure to come this year.
The Pete Carroll/John Schneider era has only just begun, but already Seahawks fans are muttering those infamous words which make any self-respecting sports-fan cringe: Super Bowl. Do I believe Seattle can make it there? Absolutely. Do I expect them to make it there? No. Now before you gather the torches and assemble the villagers, let me explain. As a sports fan (and a world class….high school athlete with little talent) I have developed a certain amount of "sports superstition." When I played high school baseball, I never stepped on the third baseline between innings. If I had a hit streak going (sure it was rarity), I never spoke about it until after it ended; and there are numerous other instances that are either too embarrassing or too ridiculous to name here but you get the point.
This is why I refuse to buy into the super bowl hype…until January. Instead, I will be focusing my efforts on analyzing the Seahawks draft picks and offseason maneuvers and their potential impact on our franchise in a series entitled, "Upon Further Review." The 2013 draft gave an already talented roster another infusion of youth and intrigue. Long before the draft had begun, Seattle spent it’s 1st round draft pick (as well as a 7th and future mid-round pick) on electrifying wide receiver and kick returner Percy Harvin, who spent the previous 4 years with the Minnesota Vikings. As exciting as this move was, it was not the pick which had eyebrows raised coast to coast. Now, if you are a depraved sports fan like me, you watched all three days of the draft. The rest of you read the picks in the paper or online like a normal, sane person.
Regardless of where you saw it, you noticed the first player Seattle drafted was Texas A&M running back Christine Michael. Reactions around the league ranged from mild shock to outright disbelief. Seattle already boasts one of the strongest backfields in the NFL with pro bowler Marshawn Lynch toting the rock alongside 2012 4th round draft pick Robert Turbin. Yet, it just wouldn’t be a draft if Pete Carroll and John Schneider didn’t make draft pundits look ridiculous. Christine Michael was largely a forgotten man in the weeks following the 2012 college football season. Draft gurus were laboring away on mock drafts back when April seemed an eternity away, but Michael’s name was lost on many big boards nationwide.
That all changed in the weeks leading up to the draft as scouts and analysts everywhere reviewed the Aggies tape from 2012. Michael jumps off the screen. His burst and acceleration: second to none. He runs angry: angry at the ground for getting in his way. He seems almost oblivious to defenders, until he runs them over. Sometimes, when he seems bored, he runs around them or just plain jukes them into foolishness. The 5’10" 220 pound Adonis from Texas runs over linebackers and away from defensive backs.
He may fit the "big back" profile but he runs unlike any other back on Seattle’s roster. He obliterates running lanes leaving only a trail of dust and rubber astro-turf. It’s fair to ask how this move bodes for the other backs on the roster. The truth is, Pete Carroll has preached competition at every position since his arrival in Seattle. His mantra is "always compete" and he apparently takes this quite seriously. Why shouldn’t our best players have to look over their shoulder too? Marshawn Lynch has won over the Pacific Northwest fans with his smash mouth running and his penchant for end-zone skittle bathing, but his aggressive nature is all too often a recipe for injury.
Limiting his carries throughout the season only preserves him for the playoffs and Michael’s burst and acceleration may just be the rugged change of pace Seattle has been craving. Keeping an eye to the future, it’s fair to project Robert Turbin and Christine Michael as the dynamic duo. Their development will be key to Seattle maintaining a level of physicality in their offense and should allow Russell Wilson to continue his meteoric rise to NFL superstardom. The need for a solid running game is not lost on anyone these days, and with the flurry of roster turnover seemingly coming to its inevitable slow, it’s clear that the future of Seattle’s backfield is in good hands.