I know this has been bordering on becoming a Percy Harvin blog this last week, but you'll have to forgive us. This team is 1-6. It's not easy to find other material to get excited about when the New York Jets acquire a playmaker.
One of the big ways to utilize a Percy Harvin is to try and get the defense moving in one direction and Harvin with the ball using his speed in the other. Here are a few examples of how his teams have done this through the years.
On this particular play Marshawn Lynch is lined up directly behind Russell Wilson as the fullback. Harvin is circled behind Lynch.
Seattle fakes a run to the right with Lynch, and you can see how the defense collapses against the run. Meanwhile Harvin sprints wide to the left to take a pitch.
There's nothing but open field in front of him, and this ends up as a 51 yard touchdown.
Here's a play Minnesota ran with Harvin. They bring him in motion to the right and fake a run left.
You end up with players going in the wrong direction, and open space for the fastest guy on the field. It's a 15 yard gain.
The Jets have stuff like this in their playbook.
The Jets fake a run left with Chris Ivory and send Kellen Winslow right.
You've got a ten yard gain here. The Jets can run this play with Harvin only they'll have a more explosive player capable of inflicting damage.
That isn't the only thing at work here, though.
Let's take a look at the very play before this happened.
You have a defensive end looping inside hard and blowing up the run play. He's leaving the edge exposed and daring the Jets to make them pay.
They do on the very next snap with the Winslow play.
By crashing hard on the last play, the end made the stop. On this play he's run himself out of the play.
Now in Harvin the Jets have a guy who can turn that into a touchdown. That's going to make an end think twice before crashing down so hard. With that kind of threat in the back of your mind, that guy might stay at home. That's one less player for Ivory to have to deal with so now he has more room on his runs.
Sometimes those little loops are called by the defensive coordinator to confuse the blocking scheme. With Harvin around you might have to scale those back. Running guys in different directions and out of their normal lanes becomes dangerous if Harvin might enter the vacated lane with open space in front of him and a full head of steam. This makes things easier for Geno Smith and the pass protectors alike.
Then maybe you pound Ivory and get him going. The defense feels like it has to gamble. Boom. Misdirection play, and Percy's got it in open space.
This is important on multiple levels. It adds a big play dimension to the offense so the Jets don't need to string together ten play drive after ten play drive to score. It's tough to string together a lot of drives like that. It also makes the Jets ask less of their quarterback, which is a necessity at this point. And as we discussed above, it opens things up for an Ivory. Make a team pay for not respecting Percy, and they'll have less resources for Ivory. That gives the running back extra room to operate. That's how Percy Harvin can change an offense.