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Percy Harvin: The Harvin Fit

Harry How

Ignoring some of the bigger picture questions the Percy Harvin trade, the deal does seem to make sense on paper for the Jets in a number of areas.

Playmaker on screens

Geno Smith ranks fourth in the NFL with a 73.5% completion percentage on quick passes (2.5 seconds or less after the snap) according to Pro Football Focus. From watching the Jets, I don't get the impression this is because he is great at getting the ball out quickly. This seems to be more about the Jets giving him easy, pre-designed reads to get the ball into the hands of his receivers to let the receivers do the work. Harvin isn't necessarily the type of guy you are going to have a ton of success lining him up on the outside and running routes. He's at his best with the ball in his hands using his speed and making people miss in the open field. Geno Smith is pretty much a one read quarterback right now. With a guy capable of making plays in the open field, it makes life easier. Those single reads can become virtually guranteed completions near or behind in the line of scrimmage. It takes pressure off the quarterback.

Return game

The Jets' return game has been spotty all year long. At 27.7 yards, Harvin has the fifth best kickoff return average in NFL history. With the offensive troubles the Jets have experienced, having Harvin as a returner can make a big difference. If he busts a big return, it might mean 20 less yards the offense has to go, perhaps 3 less plays to execute for a successful drive. If he takes one to the house, which he has done five times in his career on kickoff returns it means less points this offense needs to score. Harvin has not returned a punt in the NFL believe it or not, but I would not be surprised to see the Jets give him a look there.

Big play potential on offense

The Jets have needed to work too hard on their drives. They have needed to execute perfectly because of their lack of playmaking ability on offense. Harvin has three seasons with at least 12 receptions of 20 yards or more. Perhaps Harvin's ability in this area is overrated. Numbers like that usually rate in the teens or twenties in NFL rankings. Make no mistake. Harvin's track record in this area still beats what the Jets have done in a long time. In comparison to Percy's three seasons with at least 12 receptions of 20 yards, the Jets have only three such seasons in the last five years, Jerricho Cotchery in 2009, Braylon Edwards in 2010, and Jeremy Kerley in 2012.

Drawing attention

Even though Harvin is not off to a great start in 2014, I think defenses do need to respect his presence. Field Gulls, SB Nation's Seahawks blog, wrote about it in this piece. In addition to plays Harvin makes, they provide examples of how the attention Percy demands forces defenses to commit extra players, leaving the rest of the skill players more room to work. It has been a long time since the Jets had a player who commanded respect on offense.

I do have a number of big picture questions and qualms about the way the Jets are handling things, and we will get to those. I think in a pure football sense on Sunday, however, adding Percy Harvin makes a lot of sense for the Jets. He fills a number of roles this team has lacked desperately for years.