May 20, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin (11) and wide receiver Sidney Rice (18) laugh on the sidelines during organized team activities at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Will Russell Wilson Feed Percy Harvin?

As the Seahawks approach their game against the Rams on Monday Night Football there is a great deal of buzz about the return of Percy Harvin. An appearance from Harvin is far from a certainty at this point but the news is very encouraging. It is not surprising that fans are eager to see the biggest acquisition of the offseason hit the field. Harvin is an electric talent who is certain to improve both the Seahawks offense and kick return unit. On a more basic level he is also a very entertaining player to watch. However, the imminent return of the 67 million dollar man got me thinking about how much exactly he is going to be utilized by Russell Wilson when he steps back on the field.

When the Seahawks traded for Percy Harvin they gave up a lot. I did an in depth look at exactly what it cost Seattle at the time, but to make a long story short this was not a thrift shop purchase. That doesn’t make it a bad move, but it does mean that Harvin has to produce at an elite level to make it worthwhile. Harvin can do that but he needs two things to produce the way he’s capable of: his health and a heavy serving of the football.

Percy Harvin’s injury concerns are well documented. He has missed games with migraine issues in the past and played in only 9 games last year due to an ankle injury. Along with the hip injury he is recovering from now that’s quite the laundry list. That’s enough to make Seahawks fans wary, however, it’s not the injury issue that concerns me today.

Now that it seems that Harvin will be ready and rearing to go anytime now, it is worth asking how many balls are going to come his way. Harvin has been a featured go-to receiver in the past and that’s what he’s being paid to do in the future. Below is a chart showing the percentage of his teams’ completed passes that have gone to Harvin so far in his career. Because Harvin only played in 9 games last year I only included the passes thrown in those games, his other seasons are close enough to being complete (never less than 14 games) that I included full season statistics, but keep in mind that this deflates Harvin’s numbers ever so slightly.

Year

Completed passes by the Vikings

Receptions by Harvin

Receptions as a percentage of Vikings completions

2009

377

60

15.9%

2010

305

71

23.3%

2011

286

87

30.4%

2012

182

62

34.1%

 

As you can see Harvin is a receiver who has been getting a pretty big piece of the pie in his career. In 2009 he was the 2nd receiver behind Sidney Rice, but since then his role in Minnesota grew every year. The Seahawks are expecting him to be a true number one the way he has been but there might be one obstacle to that: Russell Wilson. It’s no secret that Wilson likes to spread the ball. Below are what his numbers look like in terms of throwing to his number one receiver (by receptions). Wilson has not been in the NFL for long so I also reached back to his NCAA stats to see if he has always spread the ball like he does now.

Year

Completed passes by the Russell Wilson

Receptions by Number One Receiver

Receptions as a percentage of Wilson’s completions

2008

150

31

20.1%

2009

224

45

20.1%

2010

308

60

19.5%

2011

225

64

28.4%

2012

252

50

19.2%

2013

115

27

23.5%

 

The fact of the matter is that Wilson hasn’t locked in on one receiver over the course of his career. Usually this is considered to be a positive characteristic in a quarterback, but when Harvin is getting paid the way he is it is worth asking whether he’ll be underused.

Percy Harvin will make this offense and this team better the moment he steps on the field and for that Seahawks fans should be thrilled That being said, there is reason to be concerned that long term Seattle might be paying a number one receiver to do a lesser job if Wilson doesn’t change his pattern. For now that’s no problem at all, but down the road Harvin might seem like a luxury the Seahawks cannot afford. Given that the two have not seen the field together in an NFL game yet it’s far too early to make a prediction like that. Perhaps Wilson will fall in love with Harvin’s playmaking ability and give target him ten times a game. However, given his history it’s a situation worth watching.

 

 

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Tags: Percy Harvin Russell Wilson

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