Packers 2016 Recap: RB Christine Michael
- 31 attempts, 114 yards, 1 TD
- 3 kick returns, 64 yards (21.3 yards per return)
- Pro Football Focus: 66.7/100 (45 of 61 qualified running backs)
Expectations going into the season: Low
Expectations were: Exceeded
Analysis: Michael helps Packers run the table with steady backup presence
The 2013 NFL Draft was a strong one for general manager Ted Thompson. Many expected second-round pick Eddie Lacy – the 62nd of the draft – to have the greatest impact on the team. In 2016, the 63rd pick of that draft found his way to Green Bay and helped solidify the Packers running game as they ran the table.
A week before Michael’s release from the Seahawks, his offensive line coach Tom Cable questioned his vision and ability to read plays. Despite immense potential and his standing as the team’s leading rusher, he was cut and immediately claimed on waivers by the running back hungry Packers.
“He’s a change-of-pace back, very quick, very athletic, and he’s happy to be here. I think he’s just looking for an opportunity,” said Aaron Rodgers after Michael joined the team. “Obviously a guy of his talent wasn’t on the street for that long, just a couple hours until he was claimed. But I’m excited about getting him out there.”
Michael’s first game on the active roster with Green Bay was coincidentally the beginning of the team’s six-game winning streak. Over the next six regular season games, he averaged 3.7 yards per carry. His 42-yard touchdown against Chicago was one of the team’s seven rushing touchdowns all season by a player other than Aaron Rodgers.
A strong performance against the New York Giants in the Wild Card game – leading the team with 47 yards on 10 carries – helped provide consistency while Montgomery and Jordy Nelson had exited because of injury.
The following week against the Cowboys, Michael made a critical special teams error when he brought the ball out of the endzone and was only able to gain six yards before Dallas smothered him.
The Packers running game in 2016 mirrored the receiving corps of last year – a rotating door of personnel due to injuries. Michael arrived at a crucial time for the Packers. Their season was on the ropes, and Aaron Rodgers was beginning to heat up.
No one was asking for a superstar running back. The Packers needed a back capable of keeping a defense from completely focusing on their superstar quarterback.
Michael and Ty Montgomery did just that.