RandBall: How much do the Vikings miss Percy Harvin?
- Blog Post by: Michael Rand
- October 17, 2013 - 1:18 PM
He had 407 receiving yards through five games last season, with at least 80 yards in all but one. In the lone game he didn't hit that mark, he ran a kickoff back 105 yards for a TD in a victory over Detroit. He was a first-half MVP candidate before he got hurt. He routinely took what Clarence Swamptown terms "throwpunts" from Christian Ponder and turned them into first downs with his skills and will.
In fact, Harvin had 528 yards receiving after the catch last season despite playing just nine games. From 2009-2012, he was second in the NFL in YAC to Wes Welker.
He was a game-changer. A mercurial guy, but a game-changer.
The Vikings, emboldened by winning four consecutive games down the stretch and weary of giving a big contract to someone with his attitude and injury history, traded him to Seattle in March for a first-round draft pick and a couple other lesser picks.
Most people conceded it had the potential to be a good deal for both sides. It looked good as people grew excited for the Vikings' three first-round draft picks. It looked better for the Vikings when Harvin was injured (he's still out, though he's set to return soon).
But let's not forget just how big of a role he played in launching the Vikings toward respectability and eventually the playoffs last year. He was more valuable than Adrian Peterson in the first half of the season. He was, at times, the offense. He allowed for an incredibly safe passing game that could still be somewhat productive because of what he could do after the catch. Through five games last season, Christian Ponder had six TD passes and just two INTs. The Vikings were 4-1. And Harvin was a major reason.
Let's also not forget that the Vikings won four games down the stretch without Harvin largely because Peterson became superhuman during that time, running for 651 yards in those games.
The Vikings receiving group this season is probably better, collectively, than it was a season ago. But they don't have a Harvin-type (or at least aren't using anyone consistently as a Harvin type). They are throwing downfield more (which is generally good), but the inaccuracy of Ponder and Matt Cassel has led to seven interceptions through these five games instead of the two last season.
And the record? It's 1-4 instead of 4-1. The main reason for this negative turnaround is the defense. Minnesota has allowed twice as many points (158) in five games as it did last year in five games (79).
But let's not forget how good Harvin was early last season. The Vikings undoubtedly miss him.
© 2013 Star Tribune