Reporting Jason A. Churchill
Fans and media alike have been clamoring for the Seattle Seahawks debut of Percy Harvin, who was acquired by the club over the offseason for a package that included a first-round draft pick as well as a contract extension that guarantees the 25-year-old wide receiver more than $25 million and could be worth nearly $70 million when all is said and done. Harvin won’t be active Monday night in St. Louis, the team reported Saturday, but it shouldn’t matter.
Not just because the Seahawks, as is, are better than the Rams — that is true, at least on paper — but because the receiving corps is good right now. Without Harvin.
We’ve wondered aloud on The Steve Sandmeyer Show for weeks whether or not this group was getting open enough or making enough plays. I did some film study on the idea, and did not see a ton of open looks for Russell Wilson that he wasn’t seeing or hitting. Further study, however, showed that the Hawks’ main targets — Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin — have been very good this season, despite some issues the team has had protecting Wilson at times, and the focus of the offense being Marshawn Lynch and the ground game.
The grading system at Pro Football Focus is one that analyzes the performance of every player on every play of every game from all angles, and agrees that Tate and Baldwin are among the game’s better receivers. Both rank the Top 20 among all wide receivers in the NFL — Baldwin at No. 17 and Tate at No. 19 — in overall performance, and the two rank at No. 19 and 20 respectively in the pass game. Tate also ranks very highly as a run blocker — No. 2 — and in terms of yards after the catch — No. 4 — while Baldwin sits at No. 6 in the entire league in percentage of balls caught, an honor shared with the accuracy of his quarterback, but also speaks to the Stanford product’s route running and hands.
Sure, we’d all like to see more big plays, the lack of big plays down the field hasn’t exactly been a problem, per se, and it’s certainly not due to Tate and Baldwin not doing their jobs. They absolutely have, and very, very well.
Harvin’s return will make the Hawks’ offense better, and in turn Tate and Baldwin, as well as Jermaine Kearse and Sydney Rice and the tight ends for that matter, will be better, too. Saturday’s news that Harvin won’t return Monday only means more terrific play from Tate and Baldwin, and far less criticism from the likes of yours truly, among others — not that I’ve been on their case, or anything.
- Jason A. Churchill, 1090 The Fan
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