Seahawks Insider

Christine Michael as kick returner? There’s no case for it

Post by Todd Dybas / The News Tribune on Dec. 10, 2013 at 1:29 pm with 74 Comments »
December 10, 2013 1:29 pm

A couple thoughts on the Christine Michael kick return discussion:

— The Seahawks have returned just 28 kicks this year (which is 23rd in the league). Four of those were squibs. So, it’s 24 in 13 games, or a little less than two per game, for the kick returners. That would likely increase slightly with someone like Percy Harvin, but the reality is the rule change for kickoffs has basically killed the kick return and the Seahawks’ defense doesn’t allow much opportunity for them to occur.

— Cordarrelle Patterson, the league’s leader in average kick return yardage, has brought it out just 36 times or 2.8 per game.

— No one in the league has a guy who only returns kickoffs. Not even the Bears with Devin Hester. He also returns punts, plays wide receiver and gets carries. Trindon Holliday does punts and kicks in Denver. Golden Tate is sixth in the league in punt return average. He’s not going to be replaced.

— Jermaine Kearse and Robert Turbin each are averaging 21.8 yards per return. We have only a college comparison point for Michael, but while at Texas A&M, he averaged 21.7 yards per return (10 for 217), which is less than what Kearse and Turbin average now in the NFL.

— Seattle is 27th in kick return average, but also only three more average yards from being in the middle of the league. Only nine teams average more than 25 yards per kickoff return. Of course, the Seahawks would like to be one of them.

— So, the problem with Michael as kick returner is the Seahawks would be activating someone who, on average, would participate in about two plays per game — since he doesn’t play on coverage units and won’t play at running back because he can’t block well enough yet — and has a history that shows his production is similar to what is happening now. There’s no reason to short yourself somewhere else to get Michael on the field for kick returns.

Leave a comment Comments → 74
  1. GeorgiaHawk says:

    I see your point Todd regarding Michael, however I think there could be a good case for Baldwin returning kickoffs.
    If I recall right he did some of that his rookie year in pre season and took one back for a TD.

    Anyways, with all those field goals kicked by the 49ers yesterday it made the two kickoff average look more like 5 or 6.

    I was more concerned with the punting game yesterday. Even without the blocked punt the 49ers averaged far more per punt then we did, which seemed to keep us in lousy field position for most of the game.

  2. I have to think they do not have Kearse or Baldwin back there is because if they were to get a concussion or worse, they would be VERY VERY thin at WR. Luckily when Kearse got his concussion, Percy was active and able to step in. Without Percy active, they would be thin if Kearse/Baldwin went down

  3. My preference (which matters not at all) is Harvin, Tate or Michael.

    Todd, the comparison between Michael vs. Kearse or Turbin at KR is flawed; kick return production is the result of the entire KR unit. As you note, Michaels numbers are from college and aren’t so aren’t comparable to what might happen if he were to return kicks for the Seahawks. Still, while I understand the argument for keeping Michael inactive I believe that he would be an upgrade over Turbin.

    Surely Tate would provide an upgrade over Turbin.

  4. With so few KR opportunities, I am not certain that the concussion risk especially significant.

  5. Todd Dybas says:

    Hey, Georgia.

    There were three legit returns by the Seahawks on Sunday. Turbin had two of them and averaged 24.5 yards per return. If the team averaged that, it would make them 11th in the league, 0.4 yards out of the top 10.

    — Todd

  6. Todd Dybas says:

    Hey, blocis.

    Those are the only numbers we have to go by for Michael. I agree it’s not an ideal sample size or straight apples-to-apples. But, it’s indicative that he was not a spectacular kick returner in college. If he averaged 50 yard per return, then there would be a case he should be in there.

    I also agree with you that it’s on the kick return team as a whole. Which only reinforces there’s not a reason to think Michael would be any better than the current returners who are being blocked for by the same unit.

    Not to mention, if someone is going to make the argument that the kick return unit in the NFL is better than the one in college, which, of course, it is, then you have to also factor that the coverage is that much better. That makes that argument a wash.

    — Todd

  7. sluggo42 says:

    I don’t care if he returns kicks, give him the rock! And why not?, return kicks too… He can’t be missing every block back there is he?

  8. chuck_easton says:


    Apparently he is. It has been mentioned by Carroll at more than a few press conferences that Michael needs to learn how to do everything expected of a Seahawks RB before he will see more time.

    That means he needs to learn to block, pass protect, and read blitzes.

    So, the team is more comfortable giving Lynch and Turbin the rock.

    Michael’s time will come in 2015 when Lynch is phased out.

  9. SandpointHawk says:

    What happened to this regimes philosophy of putting the rookies in the game and letting them learn on the job. Put the kid in the game, he is the most dynamic runner we have on the team. IMHO….

  10. chuck_easton says:

    And the first time he misses a blitz pickup and gets Wilson killed?

    There is more to being an NFL RB than carrying the ball.

  11. SandpointHawk says:

    He won’t face any blitzes returning kicks Chuck. If after this long in the film room he still can’t see a blitz then he’s dumb as a rock and should be cut loose.

  12. WiscCory says:

    Yah – screw Lynch. Let’s put the offense on the shoulders of a rookie as we head into the playoff run. That dude (Lynch) doesn’t even practice on Wednesdays. Whoever heard of such treatment?!

    Reminds me….”Practice? Practice? We’re talking about practice!”

    Okay Sluggo, I know you didn’t mean it that way. Michael should be interesting next year, however he’s not the Ferarri the team is counting on this season.

  13. oldtallguy says:

    Unbelievable that the hawks are 12-2. How can that be possible when so much of the be on this blog is about how horrible the coaching is

  14. GeorgiaHawk says:

    I think part of the problem is that we were spoiled with Washington for a few years and now we have Harvin and we’re frustrated at not seeing more then a glimpse of him returning kickoffs.

    Why is it that every time I think of Michael I think of a very talented RB, and then I think about the time of him on the Real Rob Report when Clemons gets upset at him for doing a Rap with a smoking a joint line in it.

  15. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Starting at about the 9:40 mark.
    I wonder why M Rob didn’t edit this? He said he was in this video.
    Makes sense to me why we don’t see his reports anymore.

  16. tealskin says:

    For a rookie to not want to do ST for a coach that emphasizes it, and be a crappy blocker on top of it, not a good start. Let him have some time for an attitude adjustment, then see where he’s at. If he also has some drug-related issue I don’t see him sticking around long regardless of how good a runner he is. Sounds like another risky pick. This draft may turn out to have had several misses.

  17. Todd…please re-read the chatter. It was as Kick returner AND change of pace back. He is as explosive as any player we have not named Harvin.

    One first down in SF…ONE! Sorry man but if our ‘identity’ is to pound the rock and that’s the best we can do…well, you fill in the blank.

  18. “What happened to this regimes philosophy of putting the rookies in the game and letting them learn on the job.”

    When was that ever this team’s philosophy? This team’s philosophy is “always compete.” If a rookie competes and beats out a veteran, they play (see Wilson, Russell). If Chris Michael wants to see the field, he needs to compete and beat out Turbin/Lynch.

    The other rookies who have been thrown into the fire have beaten out the guys ahead of them (Wright, Wagner), or forced in by injury (Bowie and Bailey).

  19. Southendzone says:

    This article was really in depth about the ACL injury in general, the history of the surgery part in the beginning was cool.

    maybe morning link worthy tomorrow?

  20. SeahawkFan12 says:

    Literally, this all I care about this week: BEAT THE GIANTS.

    Until Monday morning, December 16th 2013:
    – I do not care about HFA
    – I do not care what the 9ers say about their win
    – I REALLY don’t care what 9ers fans say. Ever.
    – I do not care about MVP talk
    – I do not care where we sit in the power rankings
    – I do not care what the statistical trends are between Seattle and the rest of the NFC
    – I do not care about whether or not Harvin will play this week or this season
    – I do not care if they wear Wolf Greys or all white this week
    – I do not care if Erin Andrews is on the sideline. Okay, maybe…
    – I do not care what the spread is, who picks whom to win, or whether or not the Rams and/or Cardinals
    are hot/cold/up/down

    I only care that we beat the Giants. For now…

    Rant switch

  21. MikeFromNewJersey says:

    Very nice post my friend, you made me laugh.

  22. tealskin says:

    Well, that was a conversation killer. What about shoe colors then?

  23. GeorgiaHawk says:

    OK, Let’s talk about beating the Giant’s.

    Imo, I would like to see us beat the Giant’s.

    Anyone want to add anything to that? Lol.

  24. SeahawkFan12 says:

    Dont care, tealskin.

  25. I’m with you SeahawkFan12.

    Todd, lookout, you’re awfully near the quicksand.

  26. tealskin says:

    Quicksand freezes.

  27. raymaines says:

    I don’t know that I care exactly, but think it’s funny that the way things shook out last weekend the Cowboys dropped from third seed all the way down to the ninth, and from division champ to being out of the playoffs. Ouch.

    At the thirteen game mark six NFC teams are eliminated and only one has a playoff spot locked up.

    Interesting that in the AFC the 8-5 Colts have already won their division, and the 11-2 Broncos haven’t.

  28. tealskin says:

    Think it’s kind of nice that Jerry built his football palace and there won’t be anything of significance happening there.

  29. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Isn’t it better to be talking about the Seahawks kick returners then what Giant fans are talking about?-

  30. My favorite part of the Kap video is at the end…

    where they conveniently leave out his nervous break downs during the actual game…His QBR in Seattle is what, 40?

  31. I think Bose should do a headphones ad showing Kap getting back into the bus after that game in Seattle.

  32. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Lol Audible. Did you see Moffitt urinating on his bus?

  33. raymaines says:

    Oh save me!! All the draft talk silliness is the longest 4 months of the year for me. I’d be okay if nobody ever talked about the draft, just wake me up when it’s over and tell me what happened.

  34. sluggo42 says:

    Uh yaa,

    I’m not saying I think cristin should start. Let him return kicks and get a few carries, that’s all.
    He might not be a Ferrari, but he is surely a hopped up corvette.

  35. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Now the forecast calls for 100% chance of snow and/or rain with 15- 25 mph winds for game day-

  36. Just speaking for myself here (obviously), but I for one have never said that Miachael should replace Turbin as #2 back – or even get carries as a RB. My comments were strickly as a KR option. And even then I prefer Tate to Turbin.

    Michael needs to learn to pass block before he can get carries that aren’t during garbage time.

  37. Southendzone says:

    Hey Sluggo, your car analogy is perfect. Harvin’s our ferrari, always in the shop and costs a fortune.

  38. MikeFromNewJersey says:

    Way too early to predict the weather in my part of the world. You have to wait until friday night to get an accurate report.. We got 3 inches of snow today and it wasnt predicted until yesterday..

  39. confucious says:

    Mike, sounds like the east is getting hammered. Out here in the inland northwest it’s colder than a witches tit in a brass bra but dry as a popcorn fart. We could use a little snow.

  40. CM doesn’t play until he learns to do the dirty work…picking up the blitz. I don’t care what role we’re talking about, in today’s NFL a running back HAS to be able to read a defense and pick up the blitz. There’s simply no room on a 53 man roster for someone that contributes on nothing except kickoffs. (Unless he happens to be the backup QB.)

  41. Todd – why ruin all our wild speculation with facts and Logic ;)

  42. This is only partially regarding Seahawks (can’t believe this site does not recognize Seahawks).
    Here’s my (complaint) and cut me if you don’t like it; I pay to read this. I have a “discussion” with my wife on a monthly basis, to look at your ads. I just want to read. I will pay to read quality writing. I will pay to look at video posts. But if I have to pay to wait 10 minutes to open something on my mobile device because something went into effect on Sept.

  43. btw … I only read your paper because of Dave Boling. Please cancel my subscription asap.

  44. GeorgiaHawk says:

    MikeFromNewJersey- It’s actually that way down here too with regards to the weather.

  45. GeorgiaHawk says:

    BTW- dcbeeh, go away! No one cares.

  46. Anyone can string together a couple of sentences and hyperlink a few articles. And bacon, without eggs, sucks.

  47. confucious says:

    Wow Georgia. A little hostile. I guess when you post as much as you do your apt to be offended by anything.

  48. Lets say that Michael and his big play running potential is active and Turbin isn’t.

    Even Mr. Happy has said that Michael has the biggest “big play” ability out of all his RBs and pretty much every person on this blog and bigwig (Trib guys) has said so too (sorry, Todd, don’t mean to put words in your mouth but that’s what your fellow TNT guys said prior to the start of the regular season).

    If anything happened to Lynch during a game and he couldn’t “pass block,” does that automatically mean that M-Rob couldn’t play RB in obvious pass rush situations so Michael wouldn’t have to get Wilson killed, since he isn’t good at it?

    It’s not exactly like Lynch is a Darren Spoles threat out of the backfield even if he’s thrown the ball on a screen in those 3rd and longs which are pretty much never converted anyways (if it’s a short screen to Lynch/Turbin). If anything, M-Rob is better at blitz pick-ups than Lynch if he was needed.

    When I see Turbin, I watch a football player that is average to below average in every aspect of the game.

    When I have seen Michael, I have seen a guy with big play ability who sucks at the little things (like pass pro).

    Last I heard, Mr. Happy takes guys like Red Bryant and tries to put them in position to be successful if they have talent. He’s also said he doesn’t care if they are young if they can contribute.

    What has made the Seahawks great up to this point? Playing average players or taking guys with unique talent and putting them in position to be successful?

    Personally, I’d take Lynch with M-Rob spelling him in obvious pass pro situations in protection with Michael ready to steal a few running snaps with big play ability than the alternative. That’s just me.

    I know Michael doesn’t play ST – but have any of you seen Turbin as a difference maker on ST this year that would warrant this team not being able to do without him? Just curious.

  49. GeorgiaHawk says:

    A little confused confucious as to what is hostile? This is a Seahawks blog, not a F-you TNT blog.

    You have a problem with that?

  50. MikeFromNewJersey says:

    Yeah its just a wait and see. Regardless we need to play a strong game.

  51. It’s easier and better for everyone to ignore stupid comments and focus on the Seattle Seahawks. I know I’m not perfect at it yet, but it’s certainly something I think I’ve improved on quite a bit (as I think the longtime readers will agree to).

  52. sluggo42 says:

    Ya, that ferrarrimcost a fortune, and is always in the shop. But when it’s running good, it’s a thrill a second isn’t it? Haha
    I wish we could get the corvette broken in, so we can put a few 1/4 mile bursts in…

  53. GeorgiaHawk says:

    BobbyK- I agree, I don’t see Turbin as a difference maker on special teams.
    Why not give Michael a chance? Then I go back to that Real Rob Report and see his immaturity and it makes me do a double take on Michael whether I want to or not.

    Who really knows the reasons?

  54. BTW – how is everyone doing in the Insiders Pick-em? I am currently in 32nd which I didn’t feel to bad but week 15 has some tough predicitions I think – they only one I am confident about is Seattle over NYG.

  55. confucious says:

    Absolutely! This is a Seahawks blog.! However, the guy has a right to vent his frustrations over the increasing infrastructure required to access the site. I just think there may be people better suited than you to police his post.

  56. montanamike2 says:

    I can see a paying customer getting frustrated, especially the way the tech keeps changing. This is the best season in years and we’ve been riding a car with 3 wheels so far, i hope harvin shows up soon, i’m starting to get impatient and a little frustrated too. Good point about Hill-where is he?

  57. sluggo42 says:

    I agree bobby, that was my point too .
    I wonder how close cristin is to being a whole RB ? I think turbo is just ok, not bad, but just ok. I just don’t think possible TD every time he touches the rock…

    It might also be proven that cristin looks no better than turbo., but would they have spent the #2 pick for another ho hum RB?

  58. Unless you have a last name like “Suh,” I really don’t think it’s realistic for a DT to come into the NFL and play well. I think Jordan Hill will be fine, but to expect immediate impact from any rookie DT is wishful thinking, IMO.

    From the reports we got in training camp and what little we saw – I think next year at this time we’re going to be thrilled with the Hill pick.

  59. GeorgiaHawk says:

    So You think there may be people better suited than me to police his post? I agree.
    So then why do you say in the same post that the guy has a right to vent his frustrations over the increasing infrastructure required to access the site?

    You think he has a right to vent in a vulgar way on one hand, but on the other hand you think that he can be policed by certain folks for his post?

    Sounds a bit confusing to me. Lol.

  60. raymaines says:

    XMan: I made a little snafu at the start of the season and didn’t get into the TNT group, but I’ve got 135 points thus far. How would I be doing? Next weeks picks look pretty straight forward to me for the most part.

  61. first – BUT in our group they throw out the lowest week – I have 132 but my official is 129 since last week I forgot to enter until the last 2nd and only got 4 picks in before they locked. got 3 out of 4.

    I did really well last week

  62. This week!!

  63. raymaines says:

    GH: Just flag the comment and don’t get yourself in the middle of this sort of lose/lose situation.

    “Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted.”

    DCBeeh’s comments were WAY out of line. I’m surprised the are still online.

  64. chuck_easton says:

    The one that was completely out of line is gone. OK to have an opinion. OK to be unhappy (or completely batsh** crazy pissed off in this case). But there is no need to bring profanity on to the board.

    Hey, everyone on here (guilty as charged) has lost it at one point or several. But there is no excuse for what dcbeeh typed.

    To direct it at Todd and TNT is akin to accepting a party invite and then cussing out your host in front of all the other guests. Not cool and Martha Stewart would definitely say this was ‘not a good thing’.

  65. Dukeshire says:

    I don’t quite understand why Michael not being active is confusing for some people. He would be a kick returner only, and as Todd noted, there isn’t a team in the league that has a designated returner only. Teams simply cannot afford to waste a active roster spot there. Moreover, what evidence is there he’d be any good? Simply because he’s shown quickness in extremely limited snaps out of the backfield, doesn’t mean that he’d capable of being the next Leon Washington.

    And while Turbin may never be a threat to take one to the house, He’s serviceable, at the moment.

  66. chuck_easton says:


    You are preaching to the converted and/or those not willing to accept.

    My question is this. The same people that are questioning why Michael is not active and are clamoring to see him on game day are, for the most part, the same guys/gals that insist we accept and trust PC because he knows what he’s doing.

    OK, it is PC that has made the decision that Michael isn’t ready willing or able to assume a larger role that would make him worth taking up one of those 46 active game day slots. So which is it? Is PC all knowing and we accept that he doesn’t want Michaels, or is PC an idiot and everyone on here can clearly see he’s wasting ‘the most dynamic player on the roster aside from Harvin’? Can’t have it both ways.

    Final thought. With only 46 guys active on game day everyone has to contribute. Look at Todd’s snap count. The guys that don’t see the field on offense or defense are in 70-80 or 100% of the ST plays.

    Michael can’t or won’t (still unclear which it actually is) play on the ST cover teams. Even if he were active he MIGHT get 2 or 3 snaps out of the backfield in a game. So, if he returned the 2 or 3 KO’s, and he got 5 or less plays in the offense (not carries, actually on the field), then you’d be giving up a spot for a guy that will be on the field for single digit plays.

  67. TD – Love your analysis of the KO returner situation, excellent reporting, TY.

    So far this season, as a KO returner, PFF ranks Tate’s 3 KO returns (19 yd avg) 2nd behind MIN’s Cordarrelle Patterson (33.3 yd avg). Turbin ranks tied for 51st with his 5 KO returns. PH’s one return so far only gets him ranked 45th (even though it was a 58 yarder). Coleman (0 yds-squib?), Davis (0 yds-squib?), Willson (15 yds) and MikeRob (4 yds) each had one KO return which were good enough to rank them all tied for 96th. Kearse’s 8 KO returns got him ranked tied for 193rd. Lane’s 2 KO returns got him ranked 202nd out of 218 NFL players who have returned a KO (even though his return avg was 23.5 yds, second longest to PH). Sherm has one so-so punt return but hasn’t tried a KO return (and I’m glad he hasn’t, we don’t need him becoming an injured LCB).

    Kearse and Sherm have been excellent in STs coverage and blocking for returns, ranking tied for 13th. Lane too, but moreso – ranking tied for 3rd. Heath Farwell 24th; Sweezy 59th; Lotulelei, BB, Kam, McDonald and Baldwin all tied for 131st; Irvin, Ware, MikeRob, Turbin, Lem and Shead all tied for 221st; PH, WT3, Houshka and J.Johnson all tied for 362nd; Coleman, Lockette, Tate, ET and Ryan all tied at 596th; Schofield, McQuistan, Wright and Davis all tied at 733rd; Morgan, Maragos and Willson all tied at 835th; Gresham 961st; and Maxwell and Smith tied at 1024th in STs coverage and blocking.

    PFF ranks SEA’s STs 3rd overall behind 1st DEN & 2nd CAR. NYG’s STs rank 19th.

    PFF Overall Offense: NYG 25th, SEA 16th. (SF is 13th)
    PFF Pass Offense: NYG 20th, SEA 5th. (SF is 19th)
    PFF Rush Offense: NYG 20th, SEA 2nd. (SF is 23rd)
    PFF Pass Blkg: NYG 31st, SEA 26th. (SF is 31st)
    PFF Run Blkg: NYG 18th, SEA 24th. (SF is 18th)
    PFF Off. Penalties: NYG 14th, SEA 30th. (SF is 32nd)

    PFF Overall Defense: NYG 17th, SEA 2nd. (SF is 5th)
    PFF Run D: NYG 5th, SEA 13th. (SF is 12th)
    PFF Pass Rush: NYG 28th, SEA 2nd. (SF is 8th)
    PFF Pass Coverage: NYG 16th, SEA 1st. (SF is 3rd)
    PFF Def. Penalties: NYG 23rd, SEA 29th. (SF is 15th)

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