#4 – Percy Harvin

To see the full list of the Top 10 Most Important Seahawks in 2014, click here.

In before he gets injured tonight and I have to re-do the whole fucking top 10 list …

I know it’s easy to dismiss Harvin’s ranking on this list as too high.  After all, we won the FUCKING SUPER BOWL last year and he played hardly at all the entire season.  That’s true.  That’s very, very true.

Could this offense get by without Harvin?  Yes.  But, it would be difficult.  For starters, no Golden Tate.  Say what you want about his deal in Detroit being more than what he’d be worth here in Seattle, Tate was still a huge part of this offense.  He was the #1 receiver.  And he played like a #1.  Winning jump balls down field, breaking multiple tackles, having some of the surest hands on the team, and finally having an acute sense of the endzone.  And that says nothing of the fact that he was one of the league’s best punt returners, as well as a dynamite blocker in the run game.  So, no, we didn’t have Harvin last year and we got by just fine.

But, to not have both Harvin AND Tate?  I don’t think my mind even computes that thought!

Likewise, in many ways, you could say 2014 is a transition year for the Seahawks.  It’s almost certainly the final year with Marshawn Lynch as our feature back.  I know this coaching staff is married to the idea of being a run-first team, but over 50% of all marriages end up in divorce.  What we’ll have to ask ourselves going into 2015 will be:  does Christine Michael have what it takes to be a feature back?  Or, rather, does the COACHING STAFF believe Christine Michael has what it takes to be a feature back?  Also, will this offense be nearly as good with Robert Turbin getting the lion’s share of the carries?  And, hell, you never know:  will this team – against all odds – make good on Marshawn Lynch’s contract and ride him to the bitter end?

A lot of those questions will be answered in 2014.  Or, at least, we’ll have a good idea what those answers will be.  Right now, the expectation is:  Michael and Turbin start to eat further into Lynch’s carries.  To both keep Lynch fresh (avoiding that 300-carry mark for the third straight season) and to see what they have in the other backs on this team.  If that’s true, and this offense starts to sputter (because none of the backs are able to get into a rhythm), then we will HAVE to turn to the passing game by default, just to move the chains.

Another possibility is injuries to Lynch (or, him entering the Decline Phase of his career sooner than we’d hoped).  If Lynch isn’t able to keep up his four yards per carry average for whatever reason, that’s another reason the team will have to pass more.

In continuing with that Transition Year theme, what if the defense isn’t as good as it was last year?  It’s possible!  The D-Line took some heavy hits in free agency.  The depth overall doesn’t look like it’s nearly as strong as it was last year.  While some of our young starters still have possible jumps in their development to undertake, what if those young starters get injured?  Without the depth-as-security-blanket we had in 2013, will this defense be able to withstand a rash of injuries?  If not, that’s going to shift more of the burden to the offense.  As such, you figure that will shift more of the offensive burden to the passing game.

See, there are a lot of “what ifs” we have to consider.  On paper, minus injuries, the Seahawks are the best team in football.  But, we don’t play football on paper.  Freaky shit happens all the time.  Hell, Harvin’s hip injury was some freaky shit in the first place!  He was just working out; it wasn’t even in a practice, much less a game situation!

Getting back to the aforementioned Harvin, it’s clear that Darrell Bevell is gearing his offensive gameplan around Percy Harvin’s unique talents.  He’s one of the fastest players – if not THE fastest player – in the NFL.  He can run the ball, he can line up all over the field, he can go deep, he can catch swing passes and screen passes, he can run your everyday slot receiver patterns … the guy can do it all!  When he’s healthy, he’s the best weapon you have on your team, period.  Doesn’t matter which team, either.  ANY team, he’s the best.

But, of course, it’s that whole “staying healthy” thing that gets in his way.  Or, at least, it got in his way last year.  I won’t speak to his time in Minnesota, because who cares?

Anyway, with his ability, OF COURSE you’re going to set the focus of your passing game – and entire offense – on him!  Take a look at this, for just one example:

Let’s say we feature a 1-back set with 4 receivers (or 3 receivers and a tight end, doesn’t matter).  Before the snap, Harvin runs across the field in motion.  We snap the ball, right as he’s at the spot where the QB is standing.  At this point, we can either:

  • Hand the ball to Harvin on a fly-sweep
  • Fake the hand-off to Harvin, instead handing off to Lynch
  • Fake the hand-off to Harvin, fake the hand-off to Lynch, have Wilson run the zone-read himself
  • Fake the hand-off to Harvin, then toss the ball to Harvin on a swing-pass or a screen
  • Fake the hand-off to Harvin, fake the toss to Harvin, throw the ball down-field to a streaking Baldwin or Kearse

I mean, I could go on and on, but the opportunities are endless!  This offense, with a healthy Harvin, is the very beginning of the California Gold Rush!  Riches are there for the taking.

Getting back to all of those nightmare scenarios for a moment, let’s go the other way and say everything will be fine.  Let’s say the running game is solid as always, and let’s say the defense is as strong as ever.  Well, guess what?  We’re still going to have a Harvin-centric offensive game plan, and THAT, my friends, will simply be the blowjob at the end of the date cherry on top of the sundae.  You mean to tell me we’re not only going to run the ball well, that Marshawn Lynch will be as good as ever, that our younger backs will make positive impacts in the infrequent opportunities they’re given, but we’re ALSO going to have Harvin causing massive headaches for all defensive coordinators who have to game plan against us?  Have you ever heard of a more sure-thing Championship repeat in your life?

Now, let’s take a step back and suppose that Harvin gets injured.  Because, that’s what this whole series is about – what makes these guys so important to our chances in 2014, and what those consequences might be if they’re injured.  Let’s say it’s something super serious like last year, and he’s gone for the vast majority of games.  What then?

Well, as I said at the top, we’d be in trouble.  No Harvin and no Golden Tate means it’s just Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, the two rookies (possibly), and whoever else fights through for that final WR spot (or spots).  You know me, I like Baldwin and Kearse as much as the next guy.  But, without Harvin, the dynamism is totally gone.  We go from being one of the best offenses in the NFL, to a watered down version of our 2013 offense.  Which is to say, not BAD, but underwhelming to say the least.  Unless the rookies (especially Paul Richardson) prove to be stars right out of the gate (a lot to ask of a rookie, especially a rookie receiver), we may struggle more than we’d like.  Indeed, we may cede some wins and probably the division.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we’d still be a playoff team without Harvin, but I can’t sit here and guarantee we’d repeat as NFC West Champs and the #1 seed in the conference.

Now, in my heart of hearts, what do I THINK will happen?  I don’t think Harvin will lose a full season, or anything close to what happened to him in 2013.  But, I do think he’ll miss a few games.  Maybe he rolls an ankle, maybe he takes a hit to the head, maybe he knicks up his shoulder.  I think maybe a game here, a couple games there, and by season’s end he’s started in 12 of 16 games.  And you know what?  I’ll take that.  I will absolutely take that.  We can survive four games without our stud, no problem.

Because, in those games where he plays?  He’s the key to unlocking the kind of offensive success we’ve only dreamed about.

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