Boling: Harvin only hints at what’s to come

Staff writerAugust 22, 2014 

Seahawk's Percy Harvin fakes out Bear's Charles Tillman as he flies by him on a reception at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Friday, August 22, 2014.

LUI KIT WONG — Staff photographer Buy Photo

Percy Harvin is still so shiny and new to the Seahawks and their fans that some obvious points bear repeating.

Other NFL players are sometimes helpless to cover him, or catch up to him to apply tackles.

Not that the Chicago Bears could do much against any of the Seahawks in their preseason game at CenturyLink Field on Friday night.

And Harvin wasn’t even fully exploited by the Seahawks offense. You’ll have to wait for the whole package on Sept. 4 when the Green Bay Packers show up for a real game.

But we’ve seen enough of Harvin at this point — in training camp and in preseason games — to suggest that he’s likely to be the most dangerous offensive threat the Seahawks have ever had.

That he has returned to health and been added to a Seattle team that won the Super Bowl and 13 regular-season games seems almost unfair.

The Seahawks finished 18th in the NFL in offensive gains last season. Harvin will get them near the top 10 with his efforts alone.

He’s proven it for years in Minnesota, and gave a convincing display for the Seahawks with a kickoff return for a touchdown in the Super Bowl.

Add further evidence from the win over the Chicago Bears.

Harvin, who missed most of last season while nursing a surgically repaired hip, averaged 20.3 yards per catch on three receptions Friday.

It was not so much the cumulative math that was impressive as it was the simple reality that Harvin is too fast to be stopped when he gets free in the open field. And he gets free in the open field because nobody can keep up with him.

Harvin opened the game up with a 46-yard kickoff return that seemed shockingly effortless. It looks as if Harvin is up to full speed the moment he catches the kick. Because he is.

His technique is like that of a talented center fielder who charges the ball so he can make a running throw to gun down a runner at the plate. As the ball dives to earth, Harvin races up to catch it — with his hands, not his body — and has his eyes up to scan for cracks in the coverage.

He’s heard questions about his durability. And some of that is fair. But if his toughness is an issue, it surely doesn’t show: he’s taken on contact with every catch.

And when the season rolls around, he’ll also be handed the ball on fly sweeps to stretch defenses from sideline to sideline. He is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare. Particularly when added to a lineup that includes Marshawn Lynch and so many others.

It’s convenient to argue that preseason games are without meaning. But the third game of the preseason, such as Friday’s, features starters through the first half — at which point the Seahawks led 31-0.

The domination was almost obscene.

With the regular offensive line intact early, the running game flourished.

Underappreciated, perhaps, were the contributions of fullback Derrick Coleman, who has become an exceptional lead blocker. He’s had no carries in the preseason, and is probably battling Spencer Ware for a roster spot. But he’s become a talented blocker and special teams player.

The Seattle defense, meanwhile, offered an endless array of manpower permutations. And everything worked.

Guys trying to expand their roles, like O’Brien Schofield and Jeremy Lane, continued to flash on defense, with Schofield adding another sack and Lane getting an interception.

Quarterback Russell Wilson was nearly perfect, and ran for his third touchdown of the season. And All-Pro safety Earl Thomas returned a punt 59 yards.

Yes, that’s what the defending world champions need, another All-Pro talent finding new ways to contribute. But you can’t coax these guys off the field.

When kicker Steven Hauschka booted a 59-yard field goal to bring the scoring to 31-0 at halftime, the Seahawks swarmed him as if he’d just added the winning points in the NFC championship game.

Just try to tell the Seahawks that preseason games don’t mean anything.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling

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