For Seattle Seahawks offense, even the threat of Percy Harvin is enough

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It’s a beautiful thing to have a player as dynamic as Percy Harvin healthy and on the offense. On those rare moments that he has been in a Seattle Seahawks uniform, you can sense the defense sweating over where he is on the field.

Last week against the San Diego Chargers, Harvin had four catches for 31 yards. Considering he got to 31 yards in only a quarter or so, that’s a pretty great game. Perhaps this was just to get Percy up to speed in the preseason, but the Seahawks used short, quick screen passes to get him the ball. No need to draw up a super-complex play, I suppose, when getting the ball into such an explosive player’s hands is enough.

One of the great things about having such a dynamic offensive player on the field is that he occupies just a little bit more space in the minds of the defenders — space that those defenders should be using to consider the possibilities of the other ballcarriers and receivers on the field. As it turns out, even though Harvin didn’t touch the ball on the play, Harvin deserves a lot of credit for Robert Turbin’s incredible 47-yard run in the first quarter.

The Seahawks line up with Turbin in the backfield, a tight end on either end of the line, a receiver in the slot on the left (Doug Baldwin), and Harvin in the slot on the right:

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Harvin is sent in motion from the right to the left side of the formation. The Chargers send their best cornerback, Brandon Flowers, mirroring Harvin across the line of scrimmage:

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At the snap, you can probably guess what the Chargers are thinking: The tight end and slot wide receiver on that side of the field are probably blockers for Harvin on one of those quick screen passes.

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Now, this ball was snapped in the middle of the hashes (line approximated in red). A second later, as Russell Wilson hands the ball off to Turbin, nearly every Charger is on the left side of the left hash mark, all collapsing in on Harvin:

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Before Turbin even gets back to the line of scrimmage, every single San Diego defender is taken out of the play. Linebacker Tourek Williams has practically lost his balance, and safety Jahleel Addae is cleaned up by tight end Zach Miller, who was lined up on the right side from the start. Everybody else is stuck on the wrong side of the field, trying to make sure Harvin doesn’t get the ball. There is nothing but green grass in front of Turbin, and it would be 47 long yards until somebody caught up with him: ​

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Here’s what the play looked like in real time:

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Everything about this play is beautiful, smart, and intentional.

The Seahawks won last year’s Super Bowl with limited contributions from Harvin, a presumed superstar. If Harvin manages to stay healthy this year, it looks like the Seattle coaching staff has figured out how to make their most dangerous weapon as dangerous as possible, even if Percy never touches the ball.

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