The Seattle Seahawks risked trading a first- and seventh-round pick for Percy Harvin because the dynamic receiver brings the explosiveness the offense needs to push this team over the Super Bowl hump.
With his bum hip, Harvin has had a hard time pushing anything this year. It remains to be seen when Harvin will get his next game action:
Percy Harvin is out this week, but don't write off his season just yet. Could still be a playoff factor: http://t.co/ANpk3s3Ej0— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) December 8, 2013
His health is a vital storyline to the upcoming postseason.
Just mentioning the terms of the trade with the Minnesota Vikings doesn't tell the whole story of the Seahawks' accounting for Harvin's value to this team.
Seattle also extended Harvin to a six-year $67 million contract that includes $25.5 million in guaranteed money. They extended this contract for a player who ended last season on the injured reserve, and isn't always a happy camper.
In the NFL landscape, where teams typically protect draft picks like Gollum minds his ring and try with all of their might not to hand out guaranteed money, this move is as loud a statement about a team's need for a player as we are going to get.
Now, 14 weeks into Harvin's opening year with the Seahawks, the 25-year-old receiver has been able to play in just one game where he caught one pass and returned one kick. That came in Week 11 against the Vikings.
Harvin's recovery appears to have stalled since the action, and now the team is just trying to get him back on the practice field.
“Once he gets on the practice field, it’s truly day to day." head coach Pete Carroll said with ESPN's Terry Blount providing the quote. "He is running in his rehab work. We have to see if he can tolerate it and give us a couple of days of work.”
At this point, anything is possible with Harvin's recovery. He could wind up getting on the field before the end of the regular season and be at full strength through the playoffs. Of course, there is also the chance that Harvin does not return to 100 percent this season or doesn't return at all.
Will the Seahawks win the Super Bowl if Harvin is not at or near 100 percent?
It's useless to speculate about which of those scenarios comes to fruition. What is clear, however, is that the Seahawks need him.
Obviously, the lack of Harvin thus far has not doomed Seattle. At 11-2, the Seahawks are tied with the Denver Broncos for the best record in the NFL and have a game lead, which in reality is a two-game lead due to their head-to-head victory, over the Saints for best record in the NFC.
This puts the Seahawks in great position to claim home-field advantage, and Seattle could swap out Russell Wilson for Dan McGwire and still have a strong shot of beating any team in their noise factory of a stadium.
Still, at some point, if this team is going to win the Super Bowl, there is no getting around the fact it will have to play a game on the road. There is also the chance, even if not likely, that the Seahawks could fall at home.
Those chances are far greater without Harvin.
Offensively, the Seahawks are built around the run. With the beastly power of Marshawn Lynch and the dual-treat ability of Wilson, the Seahawks are third in the NFL in rushing. This has come through a strong commitment to the run that has had the Seahawks execute the second-highest percentage of run plays in the NFL.
The passing game ranks just 21st in the NFL in yards per game. That ranking, however, is completely skewed due to the Seahawks' propensity for the rush. Seattle actually leads the NFL in yards per pass.
That efficiency in the air is largely attributed to two things: the brilliant play of Russell Wilson and opposing defenses gearing up to stop the run.
Playing with the lead for most of the season, the Seahawks have been able to pass when they want to and not when they have to. That always makes life easier on a passing offense.
When a game gets tight against a tough opponent, however, Seattle's passing game is anything but an unstoppable force.
Playing against the solid defense of the 49ers last week, the Seahawks dropped a tight game where they passed for just 179 yards at 7.1 yards per pass. That is well below the 8.2 number they carry for the season.
With the passing game struggling to hit big plays, San Francisco was able to gear up to stop the run and held Seattle to 86 yards rushing gained at an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Again, that is well below their season numbers, and it will be tough for Seattle to beat anyone with that kind of offensive production.
With a receiving corp featuring Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, Seattle has a competent group but not a single player that is going to command extra defensive attention.
Percy Harvin commands extra attention. For starters, he can line up in multiple spots on the field. He is adept as an outside receiver, a slot receiver and even out of the backfield. Once he gets his hands on the ball, he can take any play to the house.
Defenses will have to account for Harvin as Seattle lines up and make sure they have help over the top to defend against his speed. Just the threat of Harvin is enough to keep teams from their eagerness to send eight defenders into the box to stop the run.
Harvin's presence in the lineup will not only make the passing game vastly more explosive, but it will make the rushing game more effective.
With potential opponents like the Carolina Panthers, No. 1 in rush defense, and the 49ers, No. 10 in rush defense, looming for Seattle in the playoffs and possibly a date with the Broncos and their seventh-ranked rush defense in the Super Bowl, Seattle will not be able to hoist the Lombardi without Harvin's ability to stretch out a defense.
Of course, Harvin won't have the ability to stretch anything out if his hip doesn't improve.
Stats via TeamRankings.com on Thursday, Dec. 12.