Why Return of Percy Harvin Makes Seahawks NFL's Scariest Team

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Why Return of Percy Harvin Makes Seahawks NFL's Scariest Team
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Ever since Week 13 of the 2012 season, there’s no question that the hottest team in the NFL has been the Seattle Seahawks.

Over their last 15 regular-season games, head coach Pete Carroll and Co. have amassed a 14-1 record. Their only loss during that span came against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 5 of the 2013 season.

Seattle’s two-year run can be summed up with the use of one word: extraordinary.

The Seahawks have made it a point to win games in an unpredictable manner. One week, they might have to overcome a 14-point deficit. The next, they may jump out to an early 10-point lead and never look back.

Some may view them as inconsistent, but you can't argue with the results. Obviously, one of the biggest reasons behind their success is second-year signal-caller Russell Wilson, yet he’s not the only reason.

General manager John Schneider and Coach Carroll have done fantastic jobs of building one of the soundest defenses in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s secondarynicknamed the "Legion of Boom"has totaled three All-Pro selections and four Pro Bowl bids since 2011.

The linebacking and defensive line corps have flown under the radar. 

Defensive end Michael Bennett and linebacker K.J. Wright are both on pace for career highs in major statistical categories. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) indicates that defensive tackle Brandon Mebane may finish the year as the best run-stuffing defensive tackle in the NFL.

From an offensive skill-position standpoint, running back Marshawn Lynch just completed the best two-game stretch of his career, gaining 270 rushing yards and one touchdown on 45 carries.

Moreover, wide receivers Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse have taken it upon themselves to make fellow pass-catcher Sidney Rice an afterthought over the last two weeks.

Because of Rice’s injury status, Baldwin has seen the greatest jump in terms of overall snaps, Kearse is seeing more end-zone targets and Tate has become Wilson’s first read more often than not. An improved rushing attack and better play at wide receiver have been the main reasons for Seattle’s back-to-back 400-plus-yard performances offensively.

Still, the Seahawks don’t have all of their moving pieces in order. They are still short two important offensive linemen and one incredibly explosive wideout. 

Yes, left tackle Russell Okung and right tackle Breno Giacomini are crucial to Wilson’s success, but All-Pro receiver Percy Harvin is the most valued weapon in offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s arsenal.

Harvin’s presence alone will make the Seahawks the scariest team from now until the end of the season. The fifth-year veteran out of Florida is a versatile player with an unmatched ability to make defenders miss in the open field.

Prior to his season-ending injury in 2012, Harvin forced 22 missed tackles on 62 catches and notched eight receptions of over 20 yards. To put those nine-game numbers in perspective, no receiver finished the season with more forced miss tackles and yards after the catch per reception.

Will he pick up right where he left off in 2012? Perhaps not, but the Seahawks won’t have to make him the focal point of their passing game like the Vikings had to. In the beginning, Seattle will likely keep his snap count low as he adjusts to game speed. 

A former NFL player, Bleacher Report's Matt Bowen gives us two examples of how the Seahawks can effectively create mismatches close to the line of scrimmage when Harvin is used in 11-personnel packages.

Because Harvin does the majority of his damage after the catch, the video above makes sense. 

A tunnel screen on a play-action fake would give the 184-pound speedster an opportunity to find a vertical running lane up the field. Once he hits that lane, it’s up to the safety on the back end to make an open-field tackle. 

As far as the “swap boot” play call goes, Wilson’s play-action fake to the running back will create misdirection and freeze the opposing linebackers. That means Harvin will have a free release behind the line of scrimmage. As soon as he clears underneath, he will show that he has the necessary speed to catch the ball in stride and accelerate up the field for a big gain.

Fortunately, the Seahawks are hopeful that they can finally unleash their most talented playmaker. According to Harvin’s Twitter account, “It’s go time.” His tweet not only signals his return to practice, but if you read between the lines, it implies that he is ready to return to game action.

Coincidentally, his return would come against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings.

As it stands, Seattle has the 11th-best offense in the NFL based on its yards-per-game average, with that number set to increase when Harvin makes his debut. How will opposing defenses plan for the plethora of offensive weapons the Seahawks are set to deploy on a weekly basis?

That question doesn't have an easy answer. 

Without a doubt, Harvin’s active status makes the Seahawks the scariest team in the NFL.

 

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