NFL's Richest Get Richer: Percy Harvin Can Be 'A Difference Maker' for Seahawks

Dan PompeiNFL ColumnistNovember 15, 2013

May 20, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin (11) participates in organized team activities at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The argument has been made, and convincingly, that the Seattle Seahawks have been the best team in the NFL through 10 games. So what will they be once Percy Harvin is humming?  

The fresh-legged wide receiver/running back/return man is expected to make his 2013 debut Sunday against his old team when the Minnesota Vikings come to town. And when he does hit the field, along with three offensive linemen who have been injured, the rich could become the richest.

"Harvin is a difference maker," one NFC defensive coordinator familiar with him told Bleacher Report. "He's a game-wrecker. It's a crime. How can they even have him?"

The Seahawks have dominated opponents in many ways. But they really haven't dominated in the passing game. Twenty-three teams have thrown for more yards per game than them. They don't have a player in the top 25 of receiving yards.

To the Seahawks especially, Harvin should be instant passing offense. "Percy is different from any player we have," Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. "He is very explosive. He's a playmaker. He can make plays from anywhere on the field. He's a wide receiver who runs like a running back. He has great balance. He has great feet. He has top-end speed. Once you get the ball in his hands, he's different from a lot of wideouts in that he can run through you, he can run past you or he can run around you. That's what makes him dangerous."

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 23: Percy Harvin #12 of the Minnesota Vikings avoids a tackle by Chris Culliver #29 of the San Francisco 49ers during the fourth quarter of their game on September 23, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Met
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The way his skills will blend with the skills of quarterback Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch will pose multiple problems for defenses. Of course, that's what general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll were thinking when they traded first-, third- and seventh-round picks to the Vikings for him last March.

Harvin is going to make Wilson a better passer. Through Harvin's career, he has averaged 6.9 yards after the catch, according to Stats LLC. Last season, he was fifth in the league with 551 yards after the catch—in just eight starts.

The Seahawks are one of the most effective teams in the league at sucking the safety into the box. They have run the ball more than any team in the NFL. They also have a read-option element to their offense that forces defensive adjustments. So there probably is too much going on for defenses to be able to focus on Harvin.

At least until he makes them pay.

The expectation is he will make them pay. "He can beat you deep, beat you underneath," the defensive coordinator said. "Whatever you ask him to do, he can do. So it's hard to gameplan against a guy like that, especially if they have multiple weapons that prevent you from honing in on him. I can remember having two guys in position to make plays on him for no gain, and next thing you know, it's a 25-yard gain. He's very, very elusive in space. Very strong. And after he catches the ball, he can break tackles. He'll run through arm tackles."

Bevell said the Seahawks won't change their philosophy of being a run-first team, and everything else will continue to play off the run. But Harvin is going to get his touches, assuming his surgically repaired hip does not slow him.

Both Lynch and Harvin are likely to take handoffs, giving defenders two ball-carriers with radically different running styles to try to tackle. That aspect of the Seahawks offense will be similar to the Vikings offense when Harvin worked in concert with Adrian Peterson.

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 10:  Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks stiff arms William Moore #25 of the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 10, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Bevell, not coincidentally, was the coordinator for the Vikings offense during Harvin's first two years in the NFL. "The nuts and bolts of this offense are very similar—the same in some cases—to the nuts and bolts of that offense," Bevell said. "But we have different personnel, so that's where some of the wrinkles come in, trying to use our personnel effectively."

The Harvin we see Sunday, assuming we see him, might not be like the Harvin we remember. Bevell said he plans on working him in slowly, both in terms of snaps played and his role. But he thinks Harvin should be able to integrate with his new teammates in short order, hip permitting.

"Once he starts making plays like he's capable of playing, I think he'll be endeared by the players pretty quickly," Bevell said.

Yes, Percy Harvin could be quite popular in Seattle.

NFL Confidential

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 10: Riley Cooper #14 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates a fourth quarter touchdown while playing the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 10, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Philadelphia won the game 27-13. (Photo by Gr
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• It has taken two quarterbacks to allow Riley Cooper to break out. Michael Vick is the one who gave Cooper a pardon in the Eagles' locker room after Cooper's racially insensitive offseason outburst, but Nick Foles is the one who has given the wide receiver new life on the field. In games Foles has started this year, Cooper is averaging six targets and 112.2 yards. In other games, he averaged four targets and 17.6 yards. The word out of the NovaCare Center is the chemistry between Foles and Cooper is palpable. It's also very fortunate for Cooper, whose contract will expire after the season. Among the teams that could be on the lookout for a wide receiver are Andy Reid's Chiefs and Joe Banner's Browns. Both men had a hand in the drafting of Cooper.

ST. LOUIS, MO - NOVEMBER 3: Zac Stacy #30 of the St. Louis Rams runs against the Tennessee Titans during the third quarter at the Edward Jones Dome on November 3, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Michael Thomas/Getty Images

• As a fifth-round pick, Rams running back Zac Stacy is starting to look like one of the steals of the draft. Despite barely playing in the first five games of the year, Stacy has run for 537 yards. Give credit to the Rams' scouting staff, which actually had Stacy ranked considerably higher than the fifth round. A number of other teams had Stacy, who had pedestrian workout numbers, rated as an undrafted free agent. The Rams, however, liked what their eyes (good north-south runner, rare vision, patience) and their analytic reports told them. These numbers in particular were discussed at Rams Park: Playing against teams from the best conference in college football, the SEC, Stacy averaged 4.6 yards per carry in 28 career games. Marcus Lattimore from South Carolina, who might have been a first-round pick if healthy, also averaged 4.6 yards per carry against SEC teams in 19 games. And Eddie Lacy, running behind a far superior offensive line at Alabama, averaged 5.8 yards per carry in 18 games against SEC teams.

• I'm hearing the NFL quietly is discussing playing one of the London games next year at 3 p.m. local time, which would be 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Londoners may benefit from having an afternoon game, as opposed to a night game. But the real benefit could come from television revenues. On that day, the NFL could offer TV game inventory from morning till night. It's not out of the question that the 10 a.m. Eastern game could become a permanent part of the schedule, especially if the league expands overseas. In that case, the league would open up another cash stream, with potentially another network partner involved.

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 9:  Mike Daniels #76 of the Green Bay Packers does a Lambeau after he scored a touchdown on a fumble recovery at Lambeau Field on December 9, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images)
Tom Lynn/Getty Images

• Packers defensive end Mike Daniels has made a nice jump in his second year, according to pro scouts. In his rookie season, the fourth-round pick might have lacked explosiveness after injuring his shoulder as a senior at Iowa. That explosiveness is back now, and he's finishing his pass rushes. At 6'0", Daniels is the shortest defensive lineman on the Packers roster by two inches, but scouts say his lack of height doesn't hinder him because he plays with good leverage, he's technically sound and he is ridiculously determined. As a matter of fact, his lack of stature might help him because one scout said Daniels has a "short guy complex."

• If middle linebacker Paul Posluszny can't play Sunday against the Cardinals because of a mild concussion, the Jaguars will miss his leadership as well as his ability. Those who have been in the Jaguars locker room say the focus of the reigning AFC defensive player of the week is contagious, and his intensity makes his teammates better. They say Posluszny is valuable beyond his size, speed and athleticism, all of which are very good for a middle linebacker. He's also a high-effort practice player who never stops working.

Assistant Coach You Should Know: Ben McAdoo

GREEN BAY, WI - 2008:  Ben McAdoo of the Green Bay Packers poses for his 2008 NFL headshot at photo day in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo probably isn't going to get much credit for whatever Aaron Rodgers does well. But he should get credit for whatever Scott Tolzien is doing well.

The QB coach in Green Bay can get lost in the shadows of head coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Tom Clements, both former quarterbacks coaches. But people are noticing McAdoo.

In each of the past two offseasons, other NFL teams have attempted to interview McAdoo for offensive coordinator openings, but their requests were blocked by the Packers because McAdoo was under contract. He won't be under contract when the season ends, and chances are good he will be an offensive coordinator somewhere in 2014.

Why is McAdoo on NFL teams' radars? He is an extension of McCarthy, having worked with him in San Francisco and New Orleans before following him to Green Bay. He has a diverse offensive coaching background, having worked with offensive linemen and tight ends before becoming a quarterbacks coach one year ago. McAdoo's career path is similar to the paths of Andy Reid, Pat Shurmur and Mike Sherman.

Others in the building at Lambeau Field say he has a good presence about him and sees the big picture. And so far the results with Tolzien have been encouraging.

Little known fact: McAdoo and the Packers coaches changed Tolzien's release a bit, shaving off a fraction of a second from his release by having him not turn his hand out as much when he throws.

If McAdoo has any of the McCarthy magic in him, he's going to have quite an interesting future in the NFL.

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 10: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears passes under pressure from C.J. Mosley #99 of the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on November 10, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Lions defeated the Packers 21-19. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Numbers Games

They say quarterbacks should be their own offensive linemen.

One way to tell how much quarterbacks are helping their blockers is to look at the disparity between hurries/knockdowns and sacks. The bigger the disparity, the more likely it is the quarterback is getting rid of the ball quickly and efficiently, even when he is pressured.

The team with the best ratio of sacks to knockdowns and hurries is the Bears, with one sack for every 6.9 knockdowns or hurries, according to Stats LLC. That's interesting because the quarterback who has taken most of their snaps, Jay Cutler, is known for not always getting rid of the ball quickly. Of course, that reputation was formed before Marc Trestman was coaching him.

Next best is the Redskins, who have one sack for every 5.5 knockdowns or hurries. Perhaps Robert Griffin III has been more effective with his feet than many think.

Two of Griffin's quarterback classmates also have been effective in avoiding the sack, as the Andrew Luck-quarterbacked Colts have allowed one sack for every 4.7 pressures or knockdowns (prior to Thursday) and the Wilson-quarterbacked Seahawks have allowed one sack for every 4.1 pressures or knockdowns.

Hot Reads

• After Ed Reed stole $5 million from the Texans, why is everyone so upset with Richie Incognito shaking down Jonathan Martin for only $15,000?

• Reed was one of the greatest defensive players of his generation, but being old, slow, hurt and mouthy usually isn't a good way to hang on.

• That Dolphins assistant coach who believes the whole Incognito story is "overblown" also probably thought Super Typhoon Haiyan was just a little gust of wind.

• With Michael Vick's fleet of high-end cars, he clearly is out of the red. Many believe he'll soon be out of the green and white as well.

• 49ers rookie safety Eric Reid is using his head to stay healthy and avoid fines, as opposed to using his head to make tackles. What a concept.

Dan Pompei covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.


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