BY Art Thiel 01:23PM 02/01/2014

Thiel: Seahawks know something: Is it Harvin?

Healthy and happy, WR Percy Harvin provides literally an over-the-top asset they Seahawks didn’t have in a 15-3 season. The Seahawks can’t stop smiling.

A moment of action from Percy Harvin, on his 58-yard kickoff return against Minnesota Nov. 17. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

NEW YORK CITY — Sure, there is plenty of excitement among the Seahawks. But from the time they won the NFC Championship, a current of calmness runs beneath the surface among players and coaches. It’s as if they know something. Since no one dares speak of it directly, we are left to guess until Sunday night.

So here’s my guess: WR Percy Harvin, Super Bowl XLVIII Most Valuable Player.

A long shot? Yes. But this is largely a team, individually and collectively, of long shots.

Russell Wilson always praises everyone connected to the Seahawks down to the grocery store clerks where he shops. So take this quote from earlier in the week with a grain of hyperbole.

“Just get the ball in Percy’s hands. He was arguably the best player in the National Football League before he got hurt.”

Whether it’s true is secondary to the potential to be true, which is what coach John Fox and the Broncos defense must prepare for. But they are missing two top defenders in LB Von Miller and CB Chris Harris, both on injured reserve and off the game roster. And the Broncos have little video record of Harvin, who had 38 snaps over parts of two regular season games.

He’s nearly a ghost.

“We don’t really have a lot of film on him,” said Quentin Jammer, the 34-year-old cornerback who is likely to be the top target of Seattle’s game plan, said Wednesday. “We do know that he can line up in multiple positions.

“We’ve got to make sure we get him stopped on kickoff, but as a receiver . . . he’s just an explosive guy.”

The only forensic evidence is one team old — the Minnesota Vikings, who traded Harvin in March to Seattle for much draft-pick treasure.

“You have to know your history on Percy Harvin,” said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “You have to go back and watch the film at Minnesota, see how they used him there and see that he can do some things.”

But that was then, and this is 2014 and for all the marbles. With two weeks to prepare, the Seahawks can be expected to devise something unseen by any NFL opponent.

Before a concussion removed him from the playoff game, Harvin against New Orleans ran fly sweep from his left slot position that went right for nine yards. It’s the kind of play that fouls the undergarments of defensive coordinators because it’s hard to have the right personnel in the right positions to account for such shiftiness, particularly if the priority is stopping RB Marshawn Lynch. The fly sweep may have been the first for the play with the Seahawks this season, because it works best for a man with jets.

It’s the kind of play that makes Harvin so difficult to prepare for, and why the Seahawks guaranteed $26 million for a player with a dubious health history.

“With the tremendous speed that he has, the intensity that he brings when the ball’s in his hands — how he carries it, he runs like a running back — he’s unusually aggressive,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s such a versatile athlete that you have a lot of opportunities to do different things with him. So, it causes a defense to have to be on guard for him.”

“We knew it from recruiting him (when Carroll was at USC), we knew it from playing against him, we knew it from watching him. We were thrilled to have the chance to put him on our team. We haven’t had the opportunity to demonstrate how that’s going to all work out. This will be an opportunity.”

Asked to describe his eagerness, Harvin shook his head and laughed.

“I can’t tell you,” he said. “I’m so excited to play football, be healthy and feel the way I’m feeling right now. It’s a blessing to be able to play in the Super Bowl, a game that I’ve dreamed of playing in since I was a little kid. After all I’ve been through, to be able to know I’ve reached that goal, right here, right now, it’s amazing.”

The ordeal from his Aug. 1 surgery to repair a torn hip labrum laid him up for most of the season and nearly put him over the edge emotionally.

“I’m going to be really blunt and straightforward,” he said. “If it wasn’t for my teammates being there for me the way they were, I might’ve just shut it down. Just being discouraged . . . there came a point in time where the training staff didn’t know whether it was a smart idea to try to come back in the same season — like, anyone has ever had hip surgery and came back in the same season.

“A lot of frustration came with it. I probably would’ve been done with the season if it wasn’t for my teammates.”

Fans grew frustrated with the stories of Harvin’s progess and setbacks. But teammates had seen enough in practice to know that patience would provide them one of the NFL’s great game-changers.

“He brings another whole dimension to this offense and to special teams,” said fellow WR Golden Tate. “He’s just another weapon on this offense, a player who can break the game at any point.

“If you put anyone less than a cornerback on him, they might get run by. He’s going to open it up for me, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. I’ll say it:  I’m more excited to see him on kickoff return. I expect him to make big plays.”

With Harvin playing less than one percent of the plays, the Seahawks were 15-3 and NFC  champions. The one dimension the Seahawks offense lacked was world-class speed at receiver. Which is why Wilson has a hard time stifling giggles.

“He looks excellent, to be honest,” he said. “He can catch the ball extremely well. He understands the game. He’s extremely tough too. You notice that. He goes in there and blocks.

“He’s been electrifying every time he’s been in.”

If Seattle’s No. 1 defense plays to a standstill the Broncos’ No. 1 offense, the decider will come from the Seahawks offense.  And it’s better now that it was any time this season.

Which may explain the Seahawks current of calm in the Big Apple madness.


YourThoughts

  • jafabian

    If LeBron missed the entire NBA season would he play for the Heat in the Finals? You betcha. And if he was named Finals MVP no one would be surprised. That’s what Percy brings to the Super Bowl. Even if he’s playing only at, say 80% of what he could be health-wise the Broncos simply can’t prepare for him. For all they know Percy could throw a TD pass against them. At best the oddsmakers should call this game even.

  • oldfan

    Percy Harvin Super Bowl MVP? Here’s hoping. If he is he’ll be worth every penny they spent to get him.
    Loose, calm, and confident is what I’ve been sensing from this team for two weeks. It’s kept me feeling the same way. A healthy Harvin adds extra excitement into the mix.

    I’ve no doubt they’re going to be great tomorrow.

    (One more time:) GO HAWKS!

  • BigDoogie

    Look for him to start slow and gradually get into a rhythm. Then watch out. But as with the Saints, expect the Broncos to lay some hard hits on him early. They will want to knock him out of the game if possible, or at the very least, send a message while making it impossible for him to establish any kind of rhythm. As Mike Holmgren said — it’s just sound football to test a guy early who has been out of action for so long. 15 yards and a small fine is a small price to pay if you can accomplish taking Percy out of the game plan.

    So expect Harvin to be roughed up early. Hopefully he can weather the storm and go on to light up the Bronco’s D.

    Go Hawks!
    L.O.B. y’all!
    Beastmode, Boss!
    Have Mercy Percy!

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    The Seahawks know something alright~We have Harvin and you don’t…. in a season full of unusual twists and turns for a number of our guys this is the most exciting cuz as Art Eloquently pointed out ? How do the boys in orange prepare for Harvin even if the HAVE miles of tape to study on Percy?He is a blur…a flash….a weapon you cant compare to. Perhaps the best player to count on when you need a clutch TD and all of our guys are capable of that (See Jermaine Kearse catch vs 49ers for example).

    For all of the talk about the Rocky mountain Juggernaut capable of putting up 50 at any given time?It wont be that time Sunday. Not with a defense that seems poised to be talked about among the best super bowl entrants to participate in this game.

    Lock down defense…and unleashing our super weapon Harvin may just make Art the man with the crystal ball because i dont think its a stretch at all to imagine Percy giving his MVP interview and Disneyland shout out. Pretty much expecting it.

    Believe!

    Go Hawks!

  • PokeyPuffy

    At the very least having Harvin on the field will make the game much entertaining than the usual Hawks grind. The man is a joy to watch

  • RadioGuy

    The best Denver will have been able to do to prepare for Harvin is to watch film of when he played for the Vikings while Bevell was coaching there. Those 38 plays he was on the field for this season aren’t going to be enough. Hopefully the Broncos defenders don’t go after him the way New Orleans did, but this is a man’s league…they won’t be playing two-hand touch.

    Seattle by 7.

    Go Hawks!

  • Southsound Seahawk

    I’m so looking forward to finally seeing Harvin again in our offense, knowing the things he can do. I’be been watching youtube videos of him with the Vikings. He’s so fast, quick and his ability to make guys miss in the open field is so fun to watch. It’s crazy that he’s ready yet again….and for the Superbowl of all games! Too bad he and Sidney rice were injured this year. With both of them healthy, our offense wouldn’t have sputtered so much and Wilson wouldn’t have been running for his life all season long. With a healthy Rice and Harvin, I’m pretty sure our offense would have been nearly unstoppable.
    Forget about all the Manning talk, it’s Harvin that I think will provide the major difference in the game. And Seattle will be celebrating down 4th avenue with a victory parade!!