The Seattle Seahawks are so good, they don't need Percy Harvin. You know, the guy they traded a 2013 first- and seventh-round draft pick for and signed to a six-year, $67 million contract this offseason.
They really don't.
On paper, a pass-catching contingent consisting of Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Zach Miller wouldn't scare any defensive coordinator or group of secondary members.
But with Russell Wilson operating Darrell Bevell's offense at optimal efficiency, Seattle's pass-catchers, who've established steadfast rapports with their quarterback, have emerged as legitimate aerial assets.
In the booming statement win on Monday Night Football over the New Orleans Saints, Miller caught five passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Baldwin had four receptions for 77 yards with a score. Tate made four grabs for 45 yards and Kearse snagged two of Wilson's lasers for 26 yards.
They all contributed to a night in which Wilson averaged a healthy 10.3 yards per attempt.
On the year, Wilson's 8.76 yards-per-attempt average speaks to his tremendous efficiency and dynamic tendencies.
Only Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers—who've each started and played through only seven full games—have a higher yards-per-attempt average than Wilson this season.
He's on pace to throw for more than 3,500 yards at nearly a 65 percent completion rate with 29 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Remember, too—the Seahawks are still a run-predicated team that wants to control the clock and win with a menacing pass-rush and suffocating secondary.
Heading into Week 14, Seattle's first in the league with 396 rushing attempts—80 of which have come from Wilson—and its 4.4 yards-per-carry average is tied for seventh.
Here's how the Seahawks stack up offensively against some of the NFL's top attacks:
|Yards Per Play||Net Yards Per Pass Attempt||Yards Per Rush||Points Per Game|
Pro Football Reference
(*Net passing yards per attempt comes from deducting the sack yards from passing-yard total and deducting the number of sacks from the passing-attempt total.)
For a team renowned for its stingy defense, those are quite impressive offensive numbers.
Wilson's rapidly morphed from game manager to downright game controller, a transformation that has lifted the Seahawks from a one-dimensional group to the most balanced team in football.
As Seattle took a 27-7 lead into halftime against the Saints, Football Outsiders stat guru Scott Kacsmar tweeted an amazing info nugget about Wilson:
Russell Wilson's last 22.5 games: 42 TD passes, 10 INT and led in 4Q/OT all 22 games (well on way to 23/23).— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) December 3, 2013
The former third-round pick added another touchdown pass in the third quarter to take that touchdown total to 43.
Over the same 23-game stretch, Wilson finished with a QB rating higher than 90 in 17 outings, and on 14 occasions, his QB rating was above 104.
During the 2013 campaign, Wilson's had a QB rating higher than 100 in seven of 12 games, and he's been above 134 in the QB rating department in his last three.
Wilson's been just fine without Harvin, there's no debating that.
And so have Harvin's receiver mates.
Baldwin's yards-per-route-run average of 2.17 (via Pro Football Focus) ranks him 13th among wideouts who've taken at least 25 percent of their respective team's snaps this year. That robust average places him above household names such as Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall, Victor Cruz, Jordy Nelson and Dez Bryant.
Miller's 15th in that category among tight ends with an average of 1.55—higher than Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez and Jordan Cameron.
The 11-1 Seahawks, winners of seven straight, are on an absolute roll. Ironically, they've become one of the league's preeminent offenses without Harvin, the guy who was supposed to be the catalyst for offensive improvement in Seattle this season.
Source: #Seahawks WR Percy Harvin's surgically repaired hip flared up again. He's seeing doctors today, but his status for MNF is in doubt.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 30, 2013
He didn't play against the Saints, and Rapoport followed up his initial report with this development:
#Seahawks are waiting to see how Percy Harvin (hip) responds to cortisone injections. Holding him out until the playoffs is a real option.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 3, 2013
Liz Matthews of 710 ESPN radio out of Seattle then tweeted this:
Carroll on @710ESPNSeattle said of WR Percy Harvin that "he had a little procedure last week." Said feels good this morning.— Liz Mathews 710 ESPN (@Liz_Mathews) December 3, 2013
As it stands, no one outside the Seahawks organization knows exactly what the immediate future holds for Harvin or if the team will indeed be forced to hold him out until the postseason.
But that's OK.
Though many saw him as the "final piece" for Seattle in 2013, because of the length of the contract he signed and the current state of the team's offense, Harvin should be treated preciously as the long-term investment he truly is.
Should Percy Harvin be a big part of Seattle's offense when he returns?
While the Seahawks likely don't want to hurry Harvin back, when he's ready, they don't have to worry about him disrupting the efficiency of the offense or taking away considerable snaps and targets from Baldwin, Tate and Co.
Harvin's a gadget, yards-after-the catch option who's best when he's featured on a variety of quick, high-percentage screens and running plays.
If Bevell is dedicated to maintaining the status quo when Harvin returns—whenever that may be—he'd only have to use the former first-round pick in a handful of special packages and get him the ball around five to seven times a game.
Remember, Harvin was third in the league—among wideouts who played at least 50 percent of their respective team's snaps—in YAC per reception in 2010 and 2011, and he lead the NFL in that category a season ago, per PFF.
Do the Seahawks need Percy Harvin?
But when he's healthy and back on the field, he won't interfere with their hyper-productive offense.