The Seattle Seahawks stand at 10-1 going into their week 12 bye and with games coming up against tough NFC opponents such as New Orleans and San Francisco, they need to be at the top of their game on both sides of the ball. Most people know that Seattle has an elite defense, ranking 2nd in passing yards allowed per game, 1st in interceptions and 3rd in points allowed per game. They have stars at every level, Cliff Avril,Chris Clemons and Michael Bennett are tremendous pass rushers up front and stout linebackers Bobby Wagner,Bruce Irvin and KJ Wright form one of the best young linebacking corps in the league. The best part of their defense is the notorious Legion of Boom led by the loquacious and hard hitting corners, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner (who will be out 4-6 weeks with a groin injury), to go along with the best strong safety and free safety combo in the league in Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas. Most importantly the Seahawks’ success will rely on the offense, led by Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and the new addition Percy Harvin. After Wilson was selected in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft, he has shown he has all the tools to be an elite quarterback. He has a strong arm, a great feel for the game and most importantly, great leadership qualities. This year Russell Wilson has the 5th best passer rating in the league at 105.1, proving he can make the most out of a mediocre wide receiving corps that Seattle had for the first 10 weeks of the season. Now with Harvin back from injury, the Seahawks are exponentially better on the offensive side of the ball. Here are a couple of reasons why.
1.)Harvin gives Russell Wilson a primary target
This year Russell Wilson ranks among the NFL’s elite in passer rating, while throwing for 2,362 yards to secondary and tertiary options such as Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. With Harvin, the 67 million dollar man, Wilson has a serious deep threat, a player who might just be the fastest player in the league and has a reputation for making big plays. Obviously people know Harvin’s strength is speed and this fits Wilson’s style perfectly as his deep throw accuracy is one of the best, Wilson has a passer rating of 117.6 with balls thrown between 21 and 30 yards and a passer rating of 141.4 with balls thrown 31-40 yards. Harvin will also open up opportunities for players like Tate and Baldwin because the defense will be so focused on Harvin that these other players will have less press coverage. Teaming up with Wilson will also be a change for Percy Harvin as he gets an elite quarterback to throw to him. Look at Percy Harvin’s numbers with an older Brett Favre, 790 yards and 6tds in 15 games in 2009 and 868 yards and 5tds in 14 games in 2010 and with Christian Ponder, 967 yards and 6tds in 16 games in 2011 and 677 yards and 3tds in 9 games in 2012. Neither Favre nor Ponder were on the current level of Russell Wilson, showing that Harvin’s potential hasn’t even been tested. Great quarterbacks tend to have great receivers to help them out and Harvin will be a first for the ever-evolving Wilson.
2.)Opens lanes for Marshawn Lynch
Harvin or no Harvin, Marshawn Lynch has been playing like a beast this year, ranking 2nd in rushing with 925 yards and tied for 1st with 9tds. But with Harvin, Lynch could improve in the final weeks of the season. Look at Adrian Peterson’s numbers in 2008, 1,760 yards with 10 tds and 125 yards receiving and in Percy Harvin’s rookie year, 2009, AP had 1,368 yards with 18tds and 436 yards receiving.Although Peterson did have more yards in 2008 with 1,885 as opposed to 1,804 in 2009, he had 8 fewer tds and 49 more rushing attempts in ’08. This lessened workload helped Peterson sustain a balanced season while still being a productive runner. This could be the same case for Lynch as he won’t have to run as much and he can focus on the very effective screen plays that only expand this offense. Lynch averages 6.1 yards per catch with balls thrown behind the line of scrimmage, an indicator of Lynch’s effectiveness in the screen game. The other positive with Harvin’s return is the vaunted play action pass the Seahawks love to run. Imagine this, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch in the spread option with Harvin in the slot. They have three potential deadly options, 1.) Give the ball to Marshawn 2.) Have Russell Wilson pull out the ball and scramble 3.) Have Russell Wilson pull out the ball and find Harvin on a deep route. Defenses will have to guess and then react to these different options, making it difficult to stop all of the weapons. This will open lanes for Lynch as corners and safeties will not be able to crowd the box and defend Harvin simultaneously. Most people will watch Harvin and his improvement but I will be watching how Marshawn Lynch plays with Harvin on the field.
3.)Kick Return and Rushing
Percy Harvin came out of Florida with the reputation as a “game wrecker”, a compliment for an explosive player of Harvin’s nature and with 4.4 speed he certainly is a game wrecker. Look at the kick return numbers for Harvin: 42 returns for 1156 yards and 2tds in 2009, 40 returns for 933 yards and 1td in 2010, 16 returns for 520 yards and 1td in 2011, 16 returns for 574 yards and 1td and then the return last week for 58 yards. Now if you average these numbers out, Harvin averages 28.1 yards on kick returns for his career. This average would be good for 2nd in return yards this year, showing just how dynamic Harvin is. He is also a menace coming out of the backfield with 6.4 yards per carry and 4tds in his career. Now with only five weeks left, I don’t know if there is time for Pete Carroll to design some Percy Harvin run plays, but if they do formulate a few designed read option runs, the Seahawks could be even more dangerous. Come playoff time Harvin could also prove to be a vital piece in the return game if he can replicate returns like the 58 yard one he registered against his former team last week.
The future for the Seahawks is very bright with Harvin in the fold as I believe the Seahawks will finish the year with a record of 14-2, win the #1 overall seed in the NFC and control home field until the Super Bowl. I then envision the 12th man and the Emerald city celebrating in early February as Paul Allen’s 67 million dollar investment pays off with a Super Bowl ring.
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Stats from ESPN.com