How Percy Harvin Affected The Divisional Round Game Against New Orleans

I’ve got nothing to go on here except for hunches, so I’d be curious as to what other people think.

While the weather did its best to influence how the Seahawks called this game offensively, I’m convinced that we had a very Percy-heavy game-plan going in.  We got our Jaguar back from the shop, and dammit, we were going to take it out on the open road and see what it could do!

Percy Harvin is probably the most talented member of this offense.  Generally, he would be the most talented member of MOST offenses, but this year he’s with us.  When you’ve got a guy like Percy Harvin – and you’re convinced that he’s 100% healthy – you don’t just bring him out there and ask him to be a decoy.  For starters, after missing most of the year, I’m not so sure the Saints would be putting their best defender on him.  Since Saturday afternoon was Miller Time for yours truly, I wasn’t paying attention to who exactly was covering him on any given play, but that’s neither here nor there.  Percy Harvin as a decoy wasn’t going to be happening.

Nevertheless, I was surprised at just how much we DID use him.

Harvin beat his man and drew that 15-yard personal foul penalty on the first offensive drive to help us to a 3-0 lead.  That was a blessing and a curse, of course, because he had to leave the game for concussion testing immediately afterward.  He seemed to be okay, but he still had to go into the locker room to get checked out, and that ultimately took our best offensive weapon out of our arsenal for a good chunk of time.

When he returned, we were able to continue feeding him the ball as we moved pretty efficiently up and down the field.  Of course, his day came to an end just before halftime, with another savage hit.  This time, the concussion was real, and it was spectacular and it hurt us more than anyone would like to admit.

With two weeks off between our final regular season game and the first playoff game, you had to figure the Seahawks would use that time to add a little wrinkle to the offense.  It just so happened to coincide with Harvin’s return to full health, so what better wrinkle to add?  As a game plan, I think it was sound judgment on Bevell’s part.  Unfortunately, it bit us in the ass a little bit when Harvin went out for good.  The Seahawks were as bad as I’ve ever seen them at moving the ball in that third quarter.  Was that a byproduct of Harvin being out and this team needing to adjust on the fly?  If you’re like me, and you think Harvin was a big part of the plan heading into this game, then you have to believe that his absence was just as impactful on this game as the weather.

As of today, we have zero idea if Harvin will be playing on Sunday.  He’s still, presumably, got to pass all the concussion tests set in place.  Considering he took two monster blows to the head last Saturday, I’m giving him less than a 50% chance of returning this week.  Which, in the end, might be good for everybody.

Do you really want to base your passing offense around a guy who has yet to play a full game’s worth of snaps this year?  I like the idea of taking the extra time allotted to you (by being a Top 2 seed) and shaking things up to surprise your opponent, but in this case I think I’d avoid putting so much on the plate of a guy who’s clearly not in game shape.  Forget the hip, Percy Harvin hasn’t taken the kind of hits you saw in that Saints game (or, the kind of hits we’ll surely see in this 49ers game) to be remotely used to the savage beatings derived from playing the game of football.

I liked the fly-sweep.  I liked the screen plays (even though they didn’t appear to be all that effective).  If Harvin is able to return this week, let’s do our best to keep the man upright for more than a half.  The whole idea behind why Harvin is so effective is because he’s good in open space; so let’s get him the ball in open space!  Not in rapidly-closing space, with a linebacker or a safety bearing down on him.

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