Dallas Cowboys: Christine Michael Has Chance to Thrive


In 2013, the Seattle Seahawks peaked the interest of those across the league by selecting Christine Michael at No. 62 overall in the NFL Draft. His upside rated amongst the best in the draft as a player who combined strength, speed and explosiveness in the open field.

In the two seasons that have followed, however, Michael’s been limited to just 14 games played.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Michael will receive a shot at redemption with a new team.

The Dallas Cowboys’ running back situation just got significantly more interesting—and complicated.

Michael, a second-round selection in 2013, is a player whose potential has been heralded. He’s a dynamic playmaker who can break free for a big play at any given moment.

Physically, there aren’t many running backs more impressive than Michael.

Unfortunately, being a tantalizing physical specimen doesn’t matter much if the production doesn’t follow.

As previously alluded to, Michael has played in just 14 games in two seasons. In that time, he’s received a grand total of 52 carries, amassing 254 yards and 16 runs for a first down.

An average of 4.9 yards per carry is nothing short of strong, but the sample size is overwhelmingly small.

For that reason, it’s illogical to view the Cowboys’ acquisition of Michael as the answer to their running game woes. Instead, it’s more of a promising move that could result in a reward that far exceeds the risk.

It all starts with Michael’s big play ability.

Big Play Ability

Christine Michael hasn’t yet proven capable of being a true every-down back. What’s clear as day, however, is that he’s a big play waiting to happen.

The same can be said for Joseph Randle, which gives the Cowboys a tandem of high-ceiling runners to build and develop.

In 2014, the 24-year-old received 34 rushing attempts in 10 games. He ran for 175 yards during that time, which is good for an average of 5.1 yards per carry—a very impressive number.

That was never more clear than when Michael erupted for a 45-yard run against the now division rival New York Giants.

It’s worth noting that Michael averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in seven of his 10 appearances in 2014. That’s a haunting number, but it’s one that should be met with a disclaimer.

Michael was often used in pass-blocking situations. It went like this:



The hope in Dallas is that Michael will provide the Cowboys with something closer to what he gave the Texas A&M Aggies. Even then, he didn’t have the highest carries total, but he thrived in the open field.

Michael averaged 5.3 yards on 529 carries during his collegiate career.

In the NFL, the hope is that his big-play ability can translate into every-down production. He’s not a great pass-catcher, but he’s not incompetent by any means or measures.

The key to everything that makes Michael special: he now has an elite offensive line in front of him.

Elite Offensive Line

It’s a well-known fact in NFL circles that the Dallas Cowboys have one of the best offensive lines in the league. Many believe that Dallas has the No. 1 offensive line, but that’s more of a subjective debate.

For Christine Michael, playing behind an elite offensive line could lead to the career resurgence he’s pursuing.

The upside here is clear; Michael can find a hole, run through it and erupt into the open field. He ran a 4.54 40-yard dash, per NFL.com, but his game speed and elusiveness rates amongst the best of the NFC East.

Behind a line that creates voids instead of holes, Michael has a rare opportunity to exploit opposing defenses.

According to ProFootballFocus.com, the Cowboys had the second-best run protection in the NFL in 2014. That helped DeMarco Murray lead the league in rushing yards, with Dallas ranking No. 2 overall.

There may be a drop-off in 2015, but Michael will have the opportunity to fill Murray’s shoes on a team with nothing established at running back.

Weak Depth Chart

The Dallas Cowboys have a long list of options at running back. That list also consists of players who have significantly more to prove than they have established greatness.

Respectfully, the likes of Lance Dunbar, Darren McFadden and Joseph Randle simply lack the consistency to be locked in as the starter.

Christine Michael isn’t any more reliable than the other three, but that’s the point being made. It’s not a sure thing, but Michael has the tools and opportunity to thrive within Dallas’ offense.

No other running back on the roster has done enough to limit Michael’s carries.

Michael will need to work for a bigger role as the season progresses, but he has the gifts to do so. He also has the lack of competition that should enable him to work towards the starting spot.

Assuming he stays healthy and commits himself, Michael could thrive and play a significant role for the Cowboys in 2015.

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