After the Seahawks unveiled their new, improved (read: healthy) Percy Harvin in the season opener, everyone went gaga over the way the mercurial playmaker was used.
And Pete Carroll stoked the excitement by teasing, “There’s a bunch of other stuff we’ll do. … We’re just getting started.”
It sounded so promising.
In two games since then, though, the Seattle offense has used Harvin more as a decoy than anything, prompting the question: Are Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell using Harvin to best effect?
Not to be alarmist or anything. After all, the Hawks are fourth in scoring at 27.7 points per game — even after the offense was held to just 17:45 of possession in San Diego — and they are third in points per possession.
But the question of Harvin’s use has come up because the Seahawks have not thrown the ball downfield very much and also have struggled to move the ball in the second halves of their three games.
So far, the Hawks have based their offense on (a) short plays to Harvin, hoping he can use his speed to break away, and (b) his speed creating a diversion and opening up the offense for other players.
But, outside of those jet sweeps, Harvin hasn’t really been that explosive. He is averaging just 7.1 yards on his 15 catches (17 targets), which would easily be the worst of his six-year career. He actually is averaging twice as many yards on runs — 14.3 on six carries — but the San Diego game showed that when the Hawks are behind and the defense can blitz freely, Harvin is less effective out of the backfield.
Granted, three games is a small sample size, but the Hawks obviously have not refined their offensive approach yet.
The 36-16 win over Green Bay in Week 1 showed just how hard Harvin, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch make it on defenses, which have to kind of pick their poison.
But, the Hawks have lost their venom in the second half — largely because they have not used their king cobra.
Against San Diego, Harvin busted off a 51-yard touchdown run (which really should have been a 30-yard gain because he stepped out at the 21-yard line). But he touched the ball just two other times, catching one pass for five yards and getting dropped for a 6-yard loss when Seattle was backed up at its 11-yard line with three minutes to play, needing a touchdown drive to win.
In the Denver game, Wilson threw to Harvin just twice in the second half — losing a yard on a completion and throwing an interception into triple coverage.
It wasn’t until overtime that Wilson went back to Harvin. He hit him three times on short passes for 23 yards, including the play that set up Lynch for the winning touchdown.
That would seem to be a good indicator that the Hawks have to get the ball to Harvin, not just use him as a decoy.
It’s early and there’s certainly no reason to panic, but the Hawks obviously are still learning how best to use Harvin and still developing better ways to run their new supposedly high-octane offense.