On Friday, when speculation about Percy Harvin’s future and hip injury were constant topics of interest but still only matters of speculation, Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell talked about the possibility of life without Harvin.
More specifically, he was asked if Golden Tate could slide into Harvin’s role, if it came to that.
“Yeah, there are certain things we could do,” Bevell said. “Doug (Baldwin) can do a lot of the same things that Percy could do. Golden can do some of those things as well. There are different guys we can plug in.”
And now it will come to that, at least for a while. Harvin announced via Twitter that his hip injury will require surgery. He is expected to be out around three to four months, although none of that is official yet. His surgery is scheduled for Thursday.
The injury certainly doesn’t cripple Seattle’s chances of winning the Super Bowl, although it does take some shine off. The Seahawks, remember, were a Super Bowl contender a year ago with mostly the same group of guys. Harvin would have been a nice big-play toy to throw in the mix, but he wasn’t the only reason many had Seattle pegged to win the Super Bowl.
“I can’t think of very many Super Bowl champions that didn’t lose someone significant for a period of time and didn’t overcome it,” NFL Network analyst Charles Davis said. “That’s just how it is in the NFL.”
But the injury does place more importance on Tate, the explosive receiver entering his fourth season and a contract year. Here’s the good news: Tate has been the most impressive player in training camp so far. He has made his usual big plays, going up and over cornerbacks to haul in passes down the sideline. But Tate has always had that big-play ability in his arsenal.
For him, and likely for the Seahawks, it will be about much smaller but still deeply important things – 3rd and 6; can Tate get open and gain seven yards? Can he do that time and again this season?
Tate had the best season of his career last year when he caught 45 passes for 688 yards, both second on the team. Tate has looked like a player capable of becoming a star wide receiver. It’s only training camp, and what happens in camp isn’t always a clear indication of what will happen once the season starts, but Tate has the explosiveness, the hands, the ability to control his body to put it all together.
As Bevell said, Tate and Baldwin can bring some of the same qualities as Harvin. But Harvin is also an extremely unique player, which is why Seattle wanted him so badly. He can line up in so many places, create so many mismatches, carry the ball out of the backfield, turn quick screens into big gains, stretch defenses down field. He changes defensive game plans.
In reality, Tate doesn’t take on any bigger role than he had last year. He will get more snaps and opportunities now this season than he would have had Harvin stayed fully healthy. Still, the Seahawks won’t ask him to be Percy Harvin. But if he takes the next step as a player, if he becomes more consistent and dependable this season, he could help counter the loss of Harvin by taking the next step in his career.
“Remember, they manufactured offense last year without him,” Davis said. “That’s the one thing people have to keep in mind. He takes you to a different place and makes people prepare differently, but it’s not like all the sudden everything goes straight to heck. Feels like it because you put a ton of money in him, and he’s the big signature move.”