Former Seattle Seahawks running back Christine Michael was picked up off waivers by the Green Bay Packers on Wednesday, giving him an opportunity to continue to play this season with a contender. The Packers have Eddie Lacy (ankle) on injured reserve, meaning that their leading rusher among active players is quarterback Aaron Rodgers with 226 yards. Their second-leading rusher ... wide receiver Ty Montgomery with 128 yards. It’s a wonder that Green Bay is 19th in the league in rushing.
Last week, James Starks carried it seven times for 33 yards against the Tennessee Titans, which ended in the Packers fourth loss in the last five games. But they’re still just one game out of first place in the NFC North, so Michael has a good chance to get a good amount of playing time for a team that could still make the playoffs. However, the reasons for Michael being released by the Seahawks were made (a little) more clear on Wednesday by comments from Pete Carroll.
Carroll on why #Seahawks waived Christine Michael instead of giving him a reserve role: "We went with the guys we wanted to go with."— Stephen Cohen (@scohenPI) November 16, 2016
Carroll: Release of Christine Michael “really about the guys coming into the opportunity,” i.e. C.J. Prosise, Thomas Rawls.— Stephen Cohen (@scohenPI) November 16, 2016
Word was #Seahawks cut Christine Michael for football reasons, not off-the-field. The #Packers claiming him emphasizes that.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 16, 2016
The guys they want to go with are Thomas Rawls, who Carroll said would get “considerable” playing time this weekend against the Philadelphia Eagles as long as he has no setbacks in practice, and rookies C.J. Prosise, Alex Collins, and the newly-promoted Troymaine Pope. Running backs coach Sherman Smith had made it clear a few weeks ago that Michael wasn’t doing anything more than what could be expected — sort of like the “Office Space” principal of being a football player. He had notably run out of bounds before a first down opportunity against the Atlanta Falcons. And his 20 broken tackles per FootballOutsiders on runs seems decent but is a fairly low percentage/touches for a starting running back.
Michael had a broken tackle% of 16.8% — Ezekiel Elliott is at 20.8%, David Johnson is at 25.1%, Devonta Freeman is at 19.9%, Carlos Hyde is at 23%, Todd Gurley is at 22.3% — I could go on and on but just wanted to give a frame of reference. It’s higher than Melvin Gordon (15.6%) but there are a lot of reasons that Gordon is better than Michael and why the San Diego Chargers wouldn’t consider replacing Melvin Gordon.
(And pssst, be careful with Gordon moving forward, the touchdowns and NFL-leading 217 carries might be overrating him in the minds of many.)
There is nothing nefarious or conspiratorial about Seattle’s decision to release Michael. They did it because he wasn’t playing good football. He has never played that exceptionally in his four seasons as a pro. Michael has 966 career rushing yards, 19 fewer than Spencer Ware, whom the Seahawks took four rounds later. He carried the ball just 106 times in his first three seasons before getting 117 carries this year. He’s a total non-threat in the passing game, averaging 4.8 yards per catch this year on 20 receptions. Don’t look for some weird reason as to why the team opted for Collins and Pope over Michael, the writing is very clearly written on the wall.
You just had to be willing to accept it.