A receiver possessing Percy Harvin’s tools — speed, elusiveness, hands — should be able to gain yards in the NFL, at the very least. That’s what’s so confounding about his play with the Seahawks . . . and was one of the main reasons they unloaded him to the Jets last week for a late-round draft pick. Forget touchdowns; he wasn’t even getting first downs.
In fact, his per-catch average through five games was ridiculously low: 6.05 yards. Only one wide receiver in league history has finished with a lower one (on 20 or more receptions). The data:
LOWEST PER-CATCH AVERAGES BY WRS IN NFL HISTORY (20+ RECEPTIONS)
|2003||Justin Griffith, Falcons||21||122||5.81|
|2014||Percy Harvin*, Seahawks/Jets||22||133||6.05|
|2009||Josh Cribbs, Browns||20||135||6.75|
|2012||Early Doucet, Saints||28||207||7.39|
|2009||Mike Furrey, Browns||23||170||7.39|
|1997||David Palmer, Vikings||26||193||7.42|
|1993||Kevin Williams, Cowboys||20||151||7.55|
|2009||Danny Amendola, Rams||43||326||7.58|
|2013||Earl Bennett, Bears||32||243||7.59|
|2001||Tywan Mitchell, Cardinals||25||196||7.84|
|2006||Dante Hall, Chiefs||26||204||7.85|
Not exactly a prestigious group, is it? It’s certainly not the kind of group a player with Harvin’s contract (6 years, $64.25 million) and expectations should be associating with. But when you get right down to it, Percy — as a wideout, anyway — isn’t all that fearsome a force. He’s more of a horizontal threat with his Jet sweeps, pitch plays out of the backfield, bubble screens and shallow underneath routes.
If Harvin were a truly great receiver, he’d just line up wide, beat his man (or the zone confronting him) and make big plays. But his teams – first the Vikings, then the Seahawks – haven’t used him that way, which suggests it’s Not His Thing. To me, he’s a bell, a whistle, a trinket, an additional ornament for an offense, but not somebody who should be making $11 million a year.
Maybe that will change with the Jets. Maybe he’ll show the world he’s capable of being the focal point of an attack. But we’re talking about a guy who’s had injury issues and, reportedly, personality issues, a guy who only once has gained as many as 1,000 yards from scrimmage in a season (1,312 in 2011). A few times a game he’ll get his hands on the ball, step on the gas and give the crowd a thrill, but how often does he ever tip the balance?
He’s a receiver who specializes in catching passes that aren’t really passes, throws behind the line or close to the line where there’s no defender to worry about. This is a star? An old-time quarterback once told me, “We used to call those pee passes. You threw ’em about as far as you could pee.” That, to me, is Percy Harvin: The Prince of Pee Passes.