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Can the Packers Get the Most Out of Christine Michael?

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Can the Packers Get the Most Out of Christine Michael?

If there is one thing the Packers’ offense has lacked during the Aaron Rodgers era, it’s the presence of a consistently imposing running game. Even in the first two years of Eddie Lacy’s career – 2013 and 2014 – when the big back from Alabama rushed for 1,178 and 1,139 in consecutive seasons, it seemed teams still were not forced to respect the run as much as Green Bay’s coaching staff hoped they would.

The simple response to this would be: What does it matter? When you’ve got Aaron Rodgers under center, you let your offense live and die around him.

While it is a valid argument, and the Packers basically have subscribed to that strategy over the past eight years, one is still left to wonder what a formidable rushing attack could add to the already scary Green Bay offense.

The Packers have clearly committed to Ty Montgomery as a running back going forward, as well they should. The third-year former wide receiver proved he could be a viable threat in the running game after officially making the switch midway through 2016. Still, Montgomery only carried the ball more than nine times once in his debut season in the backfield.

Even if Montgomery improves on his 2016 form, and there’s every reason to believe a full offseason will help him do so, all indications are the Packers would still like more options in the backfield. For the Packers to achieve the balance they so often preach, a newcomer, whether a draft pick or otherwise, may have to step in and contribute immediately.

What the Packers could really benefit from, however, is a big step up from Christine Michael.

Michael, acquired after being cut by Seattle after week 10 in 2016, seemed to never fully grasp the offense, even as the season wore on. There were small flashes, including a ridiculous 42-yard touchdown run against Chicago, in which Michael’s ability to accelerate and shed tackles were on full display. Unfortunately, for each play he showed his potential, there seemed to be about five or six where he was indecisive and ran further horizontally than vertically.

The fifth-year veteran has spent time with three teams in his career. Drafted in the second round by Seattle in 2013, Michael spent time backing up Marshawn Lynch before being traded to Dallas in 2015. Later that year, the Cowboys waived him and, after a brief stint on the Redskins practice squad, he was picked up again by Seattle where he finished the season and eventually signed a one-year contract. Even so, the Seahawks decided to waive him again after 10 games, and that’s when Green Bay came calling.

Michael’s zig-zag career path in itself could be the biggest reason for optimism regarding his future in Green Bay. We’ve seen the physical tools he possesses – the quick twitch, decisiveness, acceleration and willingness to take contact. What we haven’t been able to see in Green Bay is how he can use those tools when he has more than six weeks to assimilate to the offense.

Part of the predicament the Packers find themselves in at running back is they will enter next season with a position group full of players who will have just completed their first full offseason as running backs under Green Bay’s offensive scheme.

It’s entirely possible the Packers could find a proverbial diamond in the rough in the upcoming draft and that player will go on to become the unquestioned number one back.

More likely, though, Green Bay will need the duo of Montgomery and Michael to take their games to the next level. Montgomery has established himself as the probable first option. It’s up to the Packers to commit to Michael and help him maximize his potential. 

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (19) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

dobber's picture

His stop in GB is one more in the process of his washing out of the NFL. Could be that he'll turn things around or a team (maybe the Packers) will find that niche use that takes advantage of the few things that he's shown that he does well. In all honesty, he's two promising players away from being a camp cutdown casualty.

OrganLeroy's picture

The knock on him has always been football IQ, he struggles learning the playbook and blitz pickup, after 5 years pretty hard to imagine the light all of a sudden going on. I'd rather, and expect, the Packers to draft a RB in the 1st 4 rounds.

slit's picture

All the skills in the world, but whether it's what's upstairs or just a really poor work ethic, there's a lot lacking. As far as vision goes, you can call him the anti - Leveon Bell.

al bundy's picture

Have to say I was under impressed with him and see why Seatlly gutted him from their team: cant read blocks, is not explosive, make poor running decisions and is useless out of the backfield

Branden Burke's picture

Al, the only thing Michael has going for him is his explosion. He has elite explosion. I forgot who, but somebody described his running style as a balloon with the air being let out. Very true. He has the ability to be a top 5 back. As everyone has stated, his mental focus and decision making are crap. If he adds one thing to his running style, he would be a stud (minus the brain). He lacks patience. Eddie lacy lacked explosion and speed, but had good patience. That's what made him a success his first two years.

The greats have patience. Michael has none. Its what makes Ezekiel Elliot the best running back I've I seen since Adrian peterson. His running style combined with athleticism is beautiful (doesn't make him a good person though). If Michael can't figure that one out, then he is done. For the record, I don't think he will figure it out. But cross your fingers, because if he does, he would be a beast.

I called for Montgomery to be involved more in the running game, but only about 70-30 wr-rb to add some flexibility and wrinkles to the offense. Some think he is the man at running back. He is not the man. He will not last in the league as a full time running back. You can see it in his runs. He doesn't run like a running back. I hope and believe the coaching staff know this.

CJ Bauckham's picture

I think the only thing that frustrates me about Michael is that he seems like he's always looking for a home run. Sometimes you just got to take 3 yards and move on to the next play

Ferrari Driver's picture

It seems running skills are natural, but many of the other modern day responsibilities of running backs requires study and training, two of which come hard for Michael.

He only scored 11 on the Wonderlic test has to be a red flag for any player. One missed blocking assignment with him in the backfield may result on seeing more of Brett Hundley than planned.

I would consider Christine Michael a camp body which will be retained only if the Packers strike out in the draft and free agency signing contest.

greenngold's picture

But Brent Fullwood only scored a 6, and it didn't seem to.... oh wait.

dobber's picture

I still remember the old Brent "Fumbleman" Fullwood from "All My Packers" on WLZR in the late 80s. It lost its fire when they finally started winning games, but it was must hear stuff for awhile...

OrganLeroy's picture

And Fullwood also hated to get hit, time and time again he'd run out of bounds instead of getting more yardage and tackled. He was a major wuss!

Bert's picture

From the neck down a pretty good RB. From the neck up not a very good RB. I'll be disappointed if he makes the final roster. We gotta do better than Michael.

olwig420's picture

He is the Jeff Janis of RBs. GB has managed to keep Jeff all this time why not him?

dobber's picture

Because you play only two gunners at a time on ST and they've gotta save a spot for Goodson...

Rossonero's picture

For all the reasons already noted about why Christine Michael is a mediocre running back who's never achieved much, this is exactly why I wanted them to give Eddie Lacy one more chance. Oh well.

al bundy's picture

If Ted got him cheap y know he is not very good.

Lphill's picture

It's amazing how everyone is down on him , how many carries did he actually get less than a dozen? Let's see him after a full camp when he can better understand plays, I think he will do fine with Montgomery .

OrganLeroy's picture

He spent almost 2 years on Seattles roster and couldn't figure it out, how's he gonna suddenly get it with 1 year on the Packers roster?

Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

And with the 29th pick, Green Bay selects Joe Mixon.

dobber's picture

Love Joe Mixon (as a player), and he might go around that spot if it weren't for his off-field issues, but I think he lasts well into round 3, as a guess. Teams will think long and hard about the PR s#!tstorm drafting him will bring and he's gonna slide...

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