George Lucas Stinks at Prequels: Is Percy Harvin the Answer for the Oakland Raiders?
Remember the Star Wars prequels? Yeah, I’d rather not as well.
After years of anticipation, George Lucas proved that everything Star Wars ISN’T automatically awesome but DOES require a good script. And if you’ve seen the prequels, you too have experienced how painful all the dialogue was between Anakin Skywalker and Padme. And then there’s Jar Jar Binks. Yikes.
You know something else didn’t live up to expectations? Percy Harvin.
The Seahawks gave up several draft picks and $18.3 million over two years to get eight total games out of Harvin, totaling only 140 yards in the regular season. They also got some locker room dissension when Harvin had some altercations with Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin.
And when the Seahawks shipped Harvin off to New York? The Jets got 350 receiving yards on just 29 receptions and 110 rushing yards with only one touchdown over 8 games.
Since the Seahawks will only receive a sixth-round draft pick from the Jets if Harvin is released by March 19, when that pick elevates to the fourth-round, it’s likely to happen sooner rather than later, particularly since the Jets made a trade Friday to acquire wide receiver Brandon Marshall from the Chicago Bears.
— NFL (@nfl) March 6, 2015
But let’s not forget why the Seahawks wanted to acquire Harvin in the first place. Although Harvin had a prolific career at the University of Florida, even setting the record for total career touchdowns (32), he ended up testing positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine, causing him to drop down the draft board. But this didn’t stop the Vikings from selecting him 22nd overall in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. And for a time, the Vikings looked like geniuses. In fact, Harvin was selected as the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year and was also named to the 2010 Pro Bowl.
In 2011, Harvin had a career year with 87 receptions totaling 967 yards and 6 touchdowns, adding 345 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Harvin’s 2012 season was cut short after 9 games due to an ankle injury. But if you project out those 9 games over a full 16 games season, Harvin would have had another career year with 1,204 receiving yards, 171 rush yards and 7 total touchdowns.
In large part, Harvin’s ineffectiveness in Seattle was due to injury, and in New York due to, well, a number of issues out his control, also known as the “Jets Offense”. Sure, he doesn’t have a totally clean track record as a good team player in the locker room, but perhaps that was more situational.
So why Oakland? Well, at the end of the 2014 season, Oakland not only looked to revamp its roster, but also its coaching staff. And so the Raiders brought in Jack Del Rio as their new head coach, and more interestingly, Bill Musgrave as the new offensive coordinator. And who just happened to be the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings during Harvin’s two breakout seasons? Bill Musgrave.
When Musgrave went to Minnesota in 2011, he actually indicated that he would not only tailor his offense to the Vikings personnel, but also use elements of the West Coast offense:
“It will have its roots in language, I’m sure, from my history with coach (Mike) Shanahan and most recently from my experience with (Falcons offensive coordinator) Mike Mularkey. There will be some language that our guys will recognize off the bat, because it will have some West Coast roots, and it will have some formations and protections that are more along the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense, which we ran down here in Atlanta with Coach Mularkey.”
And that he did. In addition, he brought the idea of increased speed to the offense:
“One thing I believe in is minimal verbiage, and we’ll make it very streamlined. We’ll make the formations easy to learn for the guys, because I believe in players playing fast.”
In 2014, Musgrave went to Philadelphia as the Quarterbacks Coach under West Coast offense guru, Chip Kelly. Heck, he even made Mark Sanchez a passable quarterback in that system. So now that he’s coming to Oakland, he’s hoping to employ this improved up tempo offense:
“The last 12 months have been terrific for me to see the system here in Philadelphia – be a part of it, be a contributor…. We’re going to do quite a bit if it fits what the players can do there in Oakland. We’re looking forward to getting out on the field in the spring and really finding out where their strengths lie. We talked about tailoring our system to fit them, but I’ve got a hunch that a lot of the things we did here in Philadelphia will match up real nice and be effective.”
Percy Harvin is fast. He had a 4.41 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine, and, well, perhaps you can just check out this dramatic 87-yard touchdown from the 2014 Super Bowl:
At any rate, the point is that Harvin excels (and accels) when he gets the ball in space. He has the ability to see the field and make people miss. Once he gets in the open, he’s about the most dangerous person in the NFL. And what better way to get him the ball that in the West Coast offense? Quick slants and other timing routes are the best way to get Harvin the ball and let him do what he does best. Musgrave was able to do it Minnesota, so why not in Oakland?
Concerned about the off field issues? Well, Harvin was relatively clean in Minnesota under Musgrave and has been fairly uncontroversial in New York. If he can stay out of trouble and avoid locker room dissension in New York, then there’s hope that this will continue moving forward.
Fortunately for Oakland, there’s a lot of negative press out there about Harvin. Oakland has the cap space (just over $60 million) and could potentially get Harvin at a slight discount. If Derek Carr can develop in the higher speed offense, which he apparently likes, then this could be a match made in Heaven.
So come on, Oakland. Time to take a chance.