It was a common sentiment heading into the off-season that the Seahawks' offense needed an explosive playmaker to round out a blossoming core of talent. Well, Percy Harvin fills that need in a big way. The good Arif Hasan, from over at the Daily Norseman, did us all a solid by outlining Percy's skill-set and some of the creative ways he was used last season. Given Darrell Bevell's past experience utilizing Harvin and his overall creativity designing plays, I think we can feel confident that our shiny new playmaker will have ample opportunity to get the ball in space.
With this article I hope to delve deeper into the less obvious ways Percy Harvin will help the offense.
The Seahawk offense emerged in 2012 as the third most efficient offense in the NFL. But as the season progressed there lingered a frustrating tendency to start slowly. One way their slow starts can be displayed is in time of possession (TOP). Including playoffs and excluding OT, the Seahawks were overall fifth in the league with an average TOP of 31:24. However, in the first quarter, the Seahawks were 26th in the league, with a 46.85% average TOP (or 7:01 out of 15:00). The Seahawks also had four three-and-outs on their opening possession over the course of the season. One of which came against Falcons in the playoffs... and we all know how that game started/ended.
Percy Harvin should get the offense rolling a bit faster. For starters, he opened most halves for the Vikings as the kick returner. I would expect a similar approach from the Hawks in hopes of starting with a BANG! Next, Harvin obviously poses a big-play threat. Yet he also consistently picks up positive gains on short throws and creative runs with his quickness and surprising physicality. That consistency is extremely valuable on key possessions.
In the absence of capable talent besides Adrian Peterson, the Viking offense leaned on Percy's unbelievable abilities probably more than they should have. A case could be made for this contributing toward Harvin's injury history. Look for the Hawks to use him a bit more selectively - shooting for quality over quantity (plus health). We have plenty of other weapons to target. I don't expect this logic to apply on our first few possessions though. This team is built to protect leads and the earlier we get it the better.
Free the Middle, Free the Top
The Falcons did a good job clamping down on Marshawn Lynch and the read option. This exposed them to Zach Miller though. Dude had himself a day, to the tune of 8 receptions for 142 yards and a TD. That almost feels like a good exchange for the Falcons, which is indicative of how dynamic this offense has become. The constant threat that Harvin poses to the underneath-perimeter should open up the middle of the field for the likes of Zach Miller and Doug Baldwin. This won't be lost on Russ.
With Tom Cable's zone blocking, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, Percy Harvin, and Golden Tate, the Seahawks can present oodles of rushing and pseudo-rushing potential on any given snap. Inevitably that threat will draw safeties out of position and expose the defense vertically. Cue Sidney Rice. Brett Favre was the last time Percy Harvin had a QB who could huck it deep. In 2012, only 17% of Christian Ponders pass attempts were over 15 yards downfield, compared to 24% for Russell Wilson. And we know Russell Wilson throws a sexy deep ball.
Welcome back to your full potential Percy.
Down and 15+
Another pitfall of 2012 Seahawk offense was its tendency to dig itself holes. Breno Giacomini's aggravating association with the color yellow contributed to this. But so did Russell Wilson and other offensive linemen. The Seahawks ranked 26th in the league in sack percentage at 7.89%. Hopefully that number comes down a little in 2013. I don't expect to rank in the top 10 though. This just seems like part of the deal with Russell's scrambling. The Seahawks will continue to face their fair share of down and 15+.
With their yards after catch (YAC) ability, Golden Tate and Percy Harvin present the perfect counter to down and 15+. If the defense plays off coverage then they'll be seeing one of these two in their ideal environment - making DB tackle-attempts look silly. If they don't play off coverage, well, there's no reason #3 shouldn't try to recapture those yards himself (with arm or legs). DangeRuss. Even at a disadvantage, this offense loses very little of its potency, so long as its key playmakers are on the field.
With all the different ways Bevell can incorporate Harvin into the gameplan, it's easy to forget that he's also an excellent slot receiver. In 2012, the Seahawks were 12th in the league in 3rd down conversion rate at 40%. I see room for improvement. If Baldwin and Harvin can stay healthy, Robo Wilson's automated response software will probably prompt him to use the expression "lights out" a lot more this season.
You see Percy's highlights. You hear about his physicality. But the two don't necessarily line up. Watching Harvin snap-to-snap is the only way to really appreciate the intensity he runs with. Harvin's listed weight of 184 seems outdated, but I'd be shocked if he weighs over 195... doesn't run like it though. He runs like he's 225 and angry. Is his style reckless? Does it place him in harm's way? Certainly. But from a defensive point of view, he's an absolute nightmare to try to tackle.
Beast Mode and the OL set the tone on offense - smashing mouths. Golden Tate, Michael Robinson, and Robert Turbin all contribute to that identity to a lesser extent. So too will Percy Harvin.
The Seahawk offense asked two questions of opposing defenses in every single game last season; can you tackle Marshawn Lynch? And can you contain Russell Wilson? Sure, other players had their moments but game in game out we asked those two questions. Percy Harvin asks another question; can you stop him? If he's on the field then inevitably he'll get the ball. That's trouble.
These questions are asked with pure, unadulterated talent. They transcend the scheme in many ways. It's what makes these guys special and we all know how Pete Carroll loves special. How many "no" answers can a defense handle before the game gets away from them? I'd say one. Maybe two if their offense is clicking. Answer "no" to all three and the Seahawks will almost certainly have themselves a W.
That's what I got. Let me know your thoughts. Can anyone think of any others (besides making plays from anywhere)?