Seattle’s Receivers Need To Step Up With Harvin Absent


May 10, 2013; Renton, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Chris Harper (17) rests in between drills at a rookie minicamp practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

When news broke that Percy Harvin’s hip surgery would sideline him for the first half of the season, optimists pointed out that the Seahawks receiving core is still well-stocked. While this is absolutely true, it has become apparent that the performance of those receivers could be vital in determining the outcome of a number of games this season.

The Seahawks, who ranked 27th in the league by throwing for just 189.4 yards per game last season, have a chance to outperform opposing defenses in a menacing way – if receivers are willing to step up.

Below is Seattle’s 2013 schedule and each teams pass-defense rank based on stats from last season:

Carolina Panthers


San Francisco 49ers


Jacksonville Jaguars


Houston Texans


Indianapolis Colts


Tennessee Titans


Arizona Cardinals


St. Louis Rams


Tampa Bay Buccaneers


Atlanta Falcons


Minnesota Vikings


New Orleans Saints


San Francisco 49ers


New York Giants


Arizona Cardinals


St. Louis Rams


It’s clear that the Seahawks have every opportunity to win the majority of these games. Harvin’s presence may have given Seattle that extra push they needed to help Russell Wilson’s passing game, but don’t count out the rest of the wide outs.

Sidney Rice will likely take on the role of go-to receiver for Wilson, like last season, but Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin will also see their share of catches. They all proved themselves last year, but the guy who should have eyes on him at this point is Chris Harper. The rookie from Kansas State now has an opportunity to become another spark in an explosive offense, one that could utilize his size and speed to burn defenses this year, eight of which finished in the bottom third of the NFL in passing yards allowed per game last year.

But here is where the receiving team becomes even more valuable than perhaps originally anticipated — division play. The 49ers have a well-documented, hard-hitting defense that posed problems for most of the NFC all year in 2012, but the sleepers that the Seahawks need to worry about are the Cardinals and the Rams.

Last season, Seattle went 3-3 against the NFC West. However, they lost those 3 games by a combined seventeen points and Russell Wilson didn’t have more than 160 pass yards in any of those games. That should be a key focus on in training camp. Turning around the passing game will give Seattle at least a few more wins on the season, no doubt about it.

Dec 23, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Sidney Rice (18) reacts after the Seattle Seahawks scored a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the 1st half at CenturyLink Field. Seattle defeated San Francisco 42-13. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals finished last year allowing just 200.8 passing yards per game, fifth-best in the NFL. They have added a few players to help make that defense even better, including drafting Tyrann Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist in 2011 at LSU. The “Honey Badger” will be playing in more of the safety position as opposed to his usual corner role in Arizona. Wherever he is on the field, he will pose problems in offenses that are vulnerable at the receiver position, and the Seahawks would be no different.

In St. Louis, the Rams have Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan guarding the corners on a team that finished 15th in the NFL with 225.1 passing yards allowed per game last year. This sleeper team also drafted three defensive players – and two defensive backs – to control offenses better. Neither they nor the Cardinals should be counted out in the West.

Back in Seattle, Percy Harvin’s injury will be the talk of the town for now. But if Sidney Rice, Golden Tate and the rest of Russell Wilson’s receivers prove in the preseason that they can make big plays to support Marshawn Lynch’s run-game, then Harvin’s absence won’t be detrimental. Besides, Harvin will be back before January, so if the Hawks make the playoffs, then the team’s number one receiver will be there.

Until then, Seattle needs to focus on their passing game. When they do, they could be unstoppable.