[caption id="attachment_27653" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Seattle All-Pro safety Earl Thomas, trying to stop St. Louis' Tre Mason Sunday, says Percy Harvin "was a great guy" with Seahawks (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)[/caption]
ST. LOUIS The reasons for Friday’s stunning trade of Percy Harvin to the New York Jets include some of what you’ve already read -- but not all.
And Seahawks players sounded divided Sunday on whether Harvin was such a bad fit for the team and the locker room that he needed to go two days before their 28-26 loss at the St. Louis Rams.
Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin confirmed in a candid postgame talk following Sunday’s loss here that he and Harvin got in a physical altercation days before Seattle played its preseason finale at Oakland in late August. The team had said at the time that Harvin was away for “personal reasons” that week. It turns out the Seahawks essentially suspended him for fighting Baldwin.
“Yes, it is true,” Baldwin said of the fight. “However, when you deal with somebody 12, 14 hours a day, you’re going to have issues and conflict. It’s a family in this locker room. Just like family members you’re going to have issues and scuffles.”
Baldwin called the trade “stunning” for him and his teammates, and a “drastic” move.
I confirmed Sunday from multiple league sources with knowledge of why the Seahawks gave up on Harvin that he refused to re-enter last week’s loss to Dallas in the fourth quarter. That is partly why No. 5 wide receiver Bryan Walters got the ball for lost yardage on a botched play late in that game.
When I asked Pete Carroll following Sunday’s game if that was true, the Seahawks coach said: “I’m not going to comment on that. Thanks.”
I also learned from those same sources that Harvin got in a second physical altercation with a teammate, former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate, in the days before February’s Super Bowl in which Harvin starred. Tate signed in the offseason with the Detroit Lions.
“Everything that goes on, we keep to ourselves -- as we’ve done all along, as we did throughout (this),” Carroll said.
One source that confirmed the fight with Tate refuted national reports that Harvin openly challenged quarterback Russell Wilson in the locker room recently. Reports have portrayed that as the final act that prompted Friday’s stunning trade of Harvin to the Jets for a conditional sixth-round draft choice next spring.
When I asked if he saw any evidence that made Harvin a “bad fit” for the Seahawks, Wilson said following Sunday’s game: “That’s nobody’s business.
“The locker room is our locker room. We keep everything in-house. He fought hard for us. He played great football in terms of battling every day.
“For whatever reason it didn’t work here, but I pray for him,” Wilson said. “I pray that he finds peace. I pray that it works for him in New York or wherever else it is. … I wish nothing but the best for Percy. He’s a guy (like Wilson) from Virginia who I respect.”
Was there a “last straw” that hastened the trade? Carroll said no.
“It was a process,” the coach said. “We are constantly evaluating and re-evaluating. We have made a lot of bold decisions and moves over time. It’s not about making the decision. It’s about making the decision right.
“We are going to make the right decision for our club, and move forward, and expect guys to take advantage of the opportunity.”
There appears to be two camps on Harvin inside the locker room: one side that, like Baldwin, clashed with him. And another side that liked having the talented Harvin as a teammate, to hear All-Pros Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas plus defensive end Cliff Avril tell it Sunday.
When I asked him, twice, if he saw any evidence that Harvin was a bad fit for the Seahawks, Sherman said Sunday, “I did not.”
“He was a great teammate while he was here,” Sherman added.
And Thomas answered the same question with “No. I thought he was a great guy.”
Avril knew Harvin beyond the field -- and liked him, too.
“It’s unfortunate,” Avril said. “I mean, he’s a friend of mine and I feel bad in that sense. His girlfriend. His kids. His family – that’s why I feel bad.”
Left tackle Russell Okung said of Harvin, “obviously, we wish he was here.
“He was such a great teammate,” Okung said. “But we’ve got to go on and press forward.”
At the very least, a split camp: Therein lies the reason Harvin’s gone, at least in management's minds if not every player's.
Sitting at his locker and speaking thoughtfully while most teammates were leaving the stadium for Sunday night’s flight home, Baldwin said the trade affected the team against the Rams. The players learned Harvin had been traded as they boarded their team bus to the airport and Friday afternoon’s flight here.
Seattle fell behind 21-3 Sunday before rallying to within two points twice in the fourth quarter.
“There’s obviously a lot of things that went on this week that affected the team in numerous ways, and I think we needed a little more time to warm up,” Baldwin said. “As a competitor you don’t want to admit those things. But as a human being, it is human nature. It took us a little while to get on track.
“And I’m proud that we responded the way we did. (But) as a human, when something that drastic happens, especially right before we get on the bus, obviously there’s going to be some kind of emotional impact. But I feel we handled it to the best of our ability.
“I think it might have been a factor in some ways.”
As for getting only a sixth-round or possibly a fourth-round pick for one of the fastest players in the league, one that cost Seattle $18.4 million and three draft choices for eight games over two injury-filled and tumultuous seasons: The Seahawks were fortunate to get what they got.
The only reason they did is because of general manager John Schneider’s relationship with Jets GM John Idzik. Idzik was the Seahawks’ vice president of football administration from 2007-2012. He was Schneider’s Seahawks’ salary-cap guru before the Jets hired him.
The Seahawks let the Jets know all about why they were becoming the second NFL team in two years after Minnesota before the 2013 season, to give up on Harvin. The Jets returned that favor by giving Seattle what they did, because the Seahawks were preparing to release Harvin had New York not traded with them.
“We’re always trying to get better,” Carroll said. “We thought that was the best move for us down the road. We have a lot of guys at that position. We have a lot of depth at receiver.
“I don’t know if you ever replace a special player like that, totally. But it was the right thing for our team, and we needed to do that.”
Here are the postgame quotes from this awful-starting, better-finishing Seahawks Sunday in St. Louis. It leaves Seattle 3-3 and in third place in the NFC West entering next Sunday's game at Carolina:
Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll
(Opening Statement) “We got started way too late in this game. We failed to start and they jumped out on us and did a nice job to get that done. Some unbelievable cool things that they were able to do on special teams and it made a big difference in this game. Once we got going we were back in the football game, but just didn’t get it finished. We have work to do. We have work to do to get consistent; we have work to do clean up some stuff the really basic things that broke down on us. There is so much room for improvement. It is unfortunate, but they got a very, very good win today. We have to give them all of the credit. They did a great job.”
(On the attempted fumble recovery by CB Richard Sherman) “He was on top of the ball, but he was on his knees and he couldn’t get flat on the ground. He was right there on it, he was crunched there in the situation and he couldn’t get flat to secure it. Then the ball got moved around a little bit. They could have said he had it. They could have looked in and saw it and given him the football, but as time wore on in the pile the ball got moved around.”
(On the offense) “We ran the ball really well. (RB) Marshawn Lynch was running the ball great, the guys were blocking well. Everything just got cranked up. We have seen this in the past, the teams start slow, the Niners did it last week and we did it here. But once we got going, we were fine. We moved the ball like crazy. we were stopping them and doing all kinds of things. They had enough special plays that they got the game.”
(On the Rams special teams success against the Seahawks) “We have an old history here, with the hide out play, but this was great execution by them on a couple of different situations. They made a huge difference. The kickoff return was huge. That was a ball that was kind of a miss kicked ball that generally doesn’t happen like that. The punt return was a great play by them, they played to our discipline. The last play, if they didn’t catch the ball we would have kicked a field goal and go home. Very gutsy play by Jeff (Fisher), the kind of stuff he has done in the past and the way we anticipate him being and we prepared for it. They came up with a couple of defenses against us.”
(On the fake punt) “We didn’t think they would do it in this situation. They just went with it and returned like crazy. “
(On his argument about the fake punt) “We thought that (WR) Tavon Austin may have given a fair catch signal. We thought that maybe one of our guys saw that. I think it was when he was falling down he kind of threw his hands up.”
(On if the Punter kicked the ball where he was supposed to) “Yes.”
(On special teams unit following the ball vs. the player) “They did a great job, it pushed everybody that way. We chased all of our blocks in that direction. Unfortunately, on that play (WR) Ricardo Lockette was just getting lined up and checking with the official and missed the snap. I think Stedman (Bailey) was there with him and he makes the catch on it and Lock may have seen it differently had he got off right. He would have to track it.”
(On being discouraged by the teams play) “Actually I am encouraged by the way we found it, and by the way we came back and did all of the things that you have to do to come back in a football game. We rallied in every way. We ran the football, we were throwing and catching it. We protected the quarterback after a while. We stopped them on third downs, we did all of the things you have to do try and patiently get back into the game and it happened just like that. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough.”
(On the play of Wilson during the third and fourth quarter) “I don’t know how his numbers jumped, but I know it was very difficult early. We hung with and the coaches stayed with the plan and we thought we could execute and they were right because it worked and we got back on track. He did a phenomenal job of carrying out the game plan.”
(On injuries and players stepping up) “Unfortunately, (FB) Derrick Coleman broke his foot during pregame. He took a faulty step or something and that is why you saw (RB) Robert Turbin out there. He found out as we were running out on the field that he could play. A number of guys including, (TE) Cooper Helfet did a great job of jumping in and playing all of that tight end. A lot of guys really elevated and helped us. Again, it just wasn’t enough.”
(On the trade of WR Percy Harvin) “It was a move we made for our team. We are always trying to get better and get things right wherever we can. We thought that was the best thing for the club and it will help us down the road. We love our guys at that position. We have a lot of depth at receiver. I don’t know if you ever replace a special player like that totally but it was the right thing for our team.”
Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson
(On the offense’s early struggles) “We struggled a little bit in the first half. They made some plays on us. They did some good things. I think the best part about today despite the loss is just our resilience. When you’re playing a good football team, they’ve lost a lot of close games and they have a very, very good defense. They fly around and make a lot of plays. Our resilience definitely showed up. Backs up a little against the wall, and that’s how you have to play. Some games aren’t going to be blowouts, some games you’re going to have to come back, some games are going to be close. We gave ourselves a chance there all the way to the end.”
(On having to come back from behind) “I think we just didn’t make some of the plays early. I think I could have played a little bit better. I think everybody could have played a little bit better, but the game is potentially in our hands there at the end. We weren’t able to capitalize for whatever reason, and so I think that we have a team that’s full of fighters, guys that put on the boxing gloves and go round and round day-in and day-out. There’s nothing better than having your backs against the wall, and that’s where we’re at right now. You just play 1-0 and try to focus on what you can control, and what we can control is the way we practice, the way we keep our mindset, still that championship mindset. The situation is the situation, but I know for our team and what we’re about, we’re going to keep fighting and keep swinging.”
(On Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin’s performance) “I thought Doug Baldwin played a tremendous game. His leadership really showed today, his abilities to make big time plays. I thought his quickness, his hands, everything that he does so well definitely was evident tonight. I also thought (Seahawks WR) Jermaine Kearse played well. I thought all the guys who stepped in – you talk about (Seahwks WR) Paul Richardson who steps in, plays a tremendous game, shows what he can really do, has great hands. (Seahawks WR) Kevin Norwood got in there, some of the other guys as well. You think about (Seahwks RB) Robert Turbin having to step in and play fullback. That’s what it takes to really give yourselves a chance. That togetherness, that attitude that we’ll do whatever it takes. We were a minute short, and that’s an unfortunate situation.”
(On if he decided he was going to run more in the second half) “I never really decide just to take off. It’s never like that for me. I really don’t want to run, to be honest with you. I’m trying to throw it all the time and keep my eyes downfield, and if it’s there I’ll take it at the last second and just try to get as many positive yards as I can. I thought the offensive line did a tremendous job protecting me for the most part today. We had a few miscues here and there, but they’re a great defensive line and a great front seven so they got to me a few times. But, I thought that we showed the ability to make plays when we needed to.”
(On his 52-yard run) “I was looking downfield and kind of saw (Seahawks RB) Marshawn (Lynch) and saw somebody coming deep across the field and I didn’t want to force it, I just kept my eyes downfield. I didn’t want to throw it behind myself. I didn’t want to make any bad decisions there. I was able to take off and got away from (Rams DE Robert) Quinn, who’s a fast player. He almost got me there and I was able to run down the sideline and get some positive yards.”
(On Seahawks TE Cooper Helfet) “Cooper Helfet, for his ability to step in. We’re down (Seahawks TE) Zach Miller, we’re down (Seahawks TE) Luke Willson. He steps in and plays a tremendous football game. It shows the depth that we have at all positions for the most part, and that’s the exciting part. I think the best part of the game for our offense and just our team in general was the 80-yard drive, the, I think, 91-yard drive and the 82-yard drive three consecutive times in a row. Like I said, that shows our resiliency and you have to look forward to the next opportunity you get. It shows what we can do and it shows that we have the ability to be special.”
(On becoming the first QB to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in a single game) “In terms of the milestone of throwing for 300 (yards) and rushing for 100 (yards), it doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean anything unless you win, so I’m not about stats, I’m far away from stats. The only thing I really care about is winning. I’ve got to figure out a way to help our team win, whatever it takes. I’ve got to find ways to play better, I’ve got to find ways to step up for our team and that’s my ultimate goal.”
(On WR Percy Harvin being traded to the New York Jets) “In terms of Percy, I wish him nothing but the best. He’s a good football player, a great football player. For whatever reason, it didn’t work here but I pray for him. I pray that he finds peace, I pray that it works for him in New York or wherever else it is. For our football team now, we just have to focus on us and what we can do together and how we can improve as a football team. I know we have great guys, guys that can really make plays and you saw that definitely today. So that’s what we have to look forward to. Like I said, I wish nothing but the best for Percy. He’s a guy from Virginia who I respect.”
(On if losing Harvin made it difficult to adjust the offense in the short-term) “No, I don’t think it makes it tougher. I think you saw today that you have guys step up. You have Paul Richardson step up, a second round draft pick. You have Kevin Norwood, a guy who played at Alabama, SEC Conference, played a lot of great football. You look forward to those guys having an opportunity. I know I got an opportunity at a very young age, and I was able to make some plays here and there and just continued to build that confidence. Hopefully the leaders on our team continue to help them build and what they’ve done as young players against our defense in practice is pretty special to watch. You look forward to those opportunities for those guys. You know that they’re going to make the plays.”
(On if Harvin did not fit in in the locker room) “There’s so many different things that you have to not worry about. That’s nobody’s business. The locker room is our locker room. We keep everything in-house. He fought hard for us. He played great football in terms of just battling every day. Like I said, I wish nothing but the best for Percy. He’s a tremendous football player and I just pray that it works out for him wherever he goes. Like I said, it comes back to us and what we can do right now and how we can continue to move on and focus on one game at a time.”
(On gaining momentum late in the game and carrying it into next week) “I feel a lot of success coming around the corner. That’s what I hope for. That’s what I believe it. I believe in our football team, I believe in the guys that we have. I believe in the coaching staff that we have. We played a great football team today in terms of how hard they played. They always give us a tough game. Ever since I’ve been here at least, I know they’ve always given us a tough game. You’ve got to give their coaching staff a round of applause for what they were able to do today and their players, too. I thought their defense played a great game. I thought (Rams QB) Austin Davis played a great game. He’s a very good quarterback, shows a lot of poise, so you have a lot of respect for what he does as a young guy, too. If we were able to get the ball back, there’s no doubt in my mind we would’ve won the game. They got us on the fake punt, and so we trusted our call and they just made a play. And the fumble, I thought we had the ball, but I guess not – I don’t know. I just believe that it’s going to turn our way. I think I’ve always believed. I believe in our team, I believe in who we have, I believe in our fans, I believe in the players we have, so I’m looking forward to it.”
(On how much they want to get back to running the football) “We always want to get back to running the football. We always want to get the ball to Marshawn and let him do his work and Robert Turbin. Like I said earlier, for Robert to step in and play fullback, which he hasn’t…I don’t think ever played fullback for us before. He did a tremendous job, and Marshawn played a tough, tough game today. He had some big runs. We want to be able to mix it up and make it tough on defenses and that’s what we were able to do today.”
(On if being 3-3 is adversity to overcome) “I think adversity is opportunity, and so we have a great opportunity ahead of us and that’s going to Carolina next week, going to the east coast, flying back home tonight, figuring out what we did wrong and what we did really well, and hopefully there’s more things that we did right than wrong and try to learn from things we did wrong and just keep improving, keep playing one game at a time. Like I’ve said, we have a team that’s full of fighters. There’s nothing better than a guy that will go 16 rounds, 15 rounds, however many rounds there is in boxing. I don’t know, I don’t watch boxing enough to really know how many rounds, but hopefully we keep fighting. I know the guys that we have in the locker room, the guys that we have that watch film and study and practice every day. I know we’ll do that, and that’s what I look forward to. No matter what, I know we’re not going to give up and that’s our goal.”
(On how he would assess their red zone performance this year) “You always want to score touchdowns in the red zone. I think we can be a little bit better and I think that’s on my shoulders. Let’s go, let’s keep moving, let’s figure out what we can do.”
(On if he’s surprised to be 3-3) “You never want to be 3-3, you want to be 6-0. Like I always say, it’s 1-0. You can’t look too far ahead, you can’t look back, you’ve just got to stay right now. If we can do that, I believe in what we’ll do.”
Seahawks CB Richard Sherman
(On if he had the ball on the final play of the game) “Obviously not, we didn’t get the ball on the play. Game over. They didn’t give it to us. Sometimes the ball falls your way and sometimes it doesn’t.”
(On the big third down stop before the game ended) “It was just man to man. Everybody had to stand up, threw the ball, pass deflection, and fourth down.”
(On missed opportunities on defense) “I guess there were some missed opportunities on defense. Some plays we could have capitalized on, but nothing we haven’t dealt with before. We’ve just got to clean some stuff up.”
(On the fumble to end the game) “I did. I had the ball. I was down. I thought they would have blown the whistle, but they stopped the ball and moved it back to the old spot. Obviously they didn’t give it to us.”
(On if he was surprised the refs didn’t give him the fumble) “I wasn’t surprised. That’s kind of how the game went for us.”
(On the fake punt) “That’s the kind of team they are. Jeff Fisher is a gambling coach and he takes them at different times in a game. He capitalized on it that time. It was a good play and a good call.”
Seattle WR Doug Baldwin
(On his overall opinion out there today) “I don’t believe in moral victories, but we try to be positive when things don’t go our way. My motto is you win some you learn some and it felt like today even though we didn’t win the game, it’s a lot that we can learn from. We got back to who we were as an offense. We have a lot of things to clean up still but it is a lot of positive we can take out of this game. I’m just very proud of my teammates and this as a whole, just how we fought to the end. Like I said we have a lot to clean up, but I think we’re back on the right track.”
(On getting back on the right track) “I felt like the run plays, the run game even though we weren’t as successful as we wanted to be, we got back to it. Still clean some things up. We’ve got a lot of guys that are injured, Derrick Coleman went down in the warm ups but we’ll be fine.”
(On playing better in the second half) “A lot of things went on this week that affected the team in numerous ways. We needed a little more time to warm up. As a competitor you don’t want to admit those things However as a human it is human nature so it took us a little while to get on track. Like I said I’m just proud we responded the way we did and fought to the very end.”
(On being 3-3 and the feeling moving forward) “Positive. Like I said offensively it felt like we got back to what we do. Darrell Bevell called a great game. I think our offensive line played very well. There are a lot of things we can clean up, receivers there are lot of plays we could have made. However, it is a lot of positive and it’s completely different from the game last week. I thought we didn’t have any growth this game, you could feel the growth within our offense. Excited about that going forward.”
Seahawks DE Cliff Avril
(On why St. Louis had success running the ball) “I haven’t watched the film yet so I don’t really know what the reasoning is, but obviously they did it.”
(On former Seahawks WR Percy Harvin) “I mean, it’s a business. It just shows you what kind of business it is. It’s unfortunate. I mean, he is a friend of mine and I feel bad in that sense. His girlfriend, his kids, his family, that’s why I feel bad.”
(On the chemistry without Harvin in the locker room) “For the most part, most guys understand the business side of it. You have to be able to, once you cross those lines, turn things off with everything that is going on around you. Just have to be able to play ball.”
Head Coach Jeff Fisher
(Opening Statement) “Well as we say from time to time, it’s hard to win in the National Football League. Just really, really grateful for the effort. An entire team effort, coaching staff effort this week after coming out on a short week. That’s a really good football team, that’s an understatement. The mark of a good team, I’m talking about the Seahawks, is when you declare eight starters, six starters, or five starters out before the game and then lose a couple more players and bring people in off practice squads and play them, and play the way they did, that’s pretty impressive. And by the way, their quarterback is an outstanding player. We have to play better defense and it’s got to happen this week. We give up way too many big plays. We did get some pressure, got some sacks, but this guy (QB Russell Wilson), he’s hard to get down. And Russell all by himself made this quite a game. I think he is to be congratulated, but has every right to be disappointed. As you guys realize, I have a great deal of respect and confidence in our special teams. I was disappointed in the production at Philadelphia. They worked hard, they pushed through it. What can you say about the execution on both those plays? It was outstanding.”
(On who came up with the football on the fumble) “The Rams. No, an offensive player.”
(On the special teams trick play in the fourth quarter) “I gave him a heads up after first down. I gave (Special Teams Coordinator) Coach (John) Fassel a heads up after first down and communicated in case we didn’t convert. You guys saw the flow of the game, we were having a hard time stopping Russell. There was too much time left on the clock right there and I didn’t want to give the ball back to him and I thought that was our best chance to get a first down.”
(On if he would have faked the punt if QB Austin Davis did not complete the shovel pass) “Yes, to me that was going to be a decent gain based on the field position. This is the last thing anybody expected, that’s why sometimes those things work.”
(On the punt return for a touchdown) “We installed it…I discussed it with Coach Fassel on Wednesday night…we installed it and worked on it Thursday and Friday and then walked it again yesterday. It was just one of those things that was executed. Something that we saw on tape, we took advantage of it.”
(On if he knew they would kick it to the left) “We knew that we had a 90 percent chance that it was going to go there.”
(On WR Stedman Bailey catching the ball over his shoulder) “He did it. We executed it in practice. Johnny (Hekker) gave him a really good look. And the key is that (WR) Tavon (Austin) and (S) Cody (Davis) really oversell that the ball is going…the team is expecting the ball to come down to their left, our right. And so when they saw Tavon running over, they probably thought it was miss-hit. The downside was he doesn’t catch it, the ball goes in the end zone, it’s a touch back or it’s downed. The upside was we felt like if he was able to field it, then we had a chance to probably put points on the board. This is something, it’s a copycat league okay. The Bears did this with (Devin) Hester against the Packers six or seven years ago and scored, but it was called back for holding. But we just felt, based on the information that we had and everything, we felt like…I had enough…it was an automatic based on field position as well. I told Coach Fassel to go ahead and run it if we had the right field position and we did. So it worked. Special teams obviously played a big factor in this one.”