The Seahawks went into Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns with two running backs who weren't even on the roster the previous week.
Even without Thomas Rawls and Marshawn Lynch, they were able to run the ball effectively with Christine Michael and Bryce Brown. Derrick Coleman got five carries (10 yards) on the first drive, but did not touch the ball after that.
Instead, it was Michael and Brown combining for 25 carries. Below is a look at how they performed. Numbers are courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, unless otherwise noted.
Michael played 24 snaps and led the team with 16 carries for 84 yards (5.3 YPC). It's telling that 11 of those attempts came in the second half. Clearly, the coaches were liking what they saw from Michael and wanted to give him more opportunities.
Brown played 22 snaps and carried nine times for 43 yards (4.8 YPC). This was the first time in over a year that he carried the ball in an NFL game, and Brown said he definitely felt anxious beforehand. It seemed like he got more comfortable as the game went on.
Yards before/after contact
Michael averaged 3.25 yards before contact, a very high number. That speaks to vision, blocking and play-calling. He was picking up positive yardage before being touched. Brown also had a high number here (2.78). The offensive line won the battle up front, but keep in mind that the Browns entered the week ranked 29th in rushing defense, according to Football Outsiders.
Both players averaged the same number of yards after contact (2.0). They did a good job fighting through tacklers, and neither did a lot of dancing. Among the 25 carries by Michael and Brown, none lost yardage.
Pete Carroll grew annoyed after the game when a reporter suggested that the Seahawks might go forward with a running-back-by-committee approach.
"We’re not using that word," he said. "We don’t know that word. We’re just going to go one day at a time and see how that goes. I was really happy that those guys were productive, and the guys up front did another fine job for us, and I’m really fired up that they continue to show consistency."
Marshawn Lynch is reportedly rehabbing with an MMA trainer in the Bay Area. Carroll has not offered a timetable yet on his possible return.
Fred Jackson played 13 snaps and will continue to be on the field in third-down situations.
The most likely scenario here is that the Seahawks will use both Michael and Brown once again Sunday against the St. Louis Rams. If one guy separates himself, he could carry a heavier load, but there's no downside to using them both.
As for Lynch, it seems reasonable to expect the team to have a firmer grasp on his potential return at this time next week.