clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NY Jets Friday Spotlight: Percy Harvin

Time to earn those millions.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Friday Spotlight.  Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week.  Today's player in the spotlight is Percy Harvin.

Harvin, a 5' 11", 200 pound, 26 year old wide receiver out of the University of Florida, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings with the 22nd overall pick in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft.  Harvin played four years with the Vikings before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks prior to the 2013 season.  Harvin was injured in all but one regular season game in 2013 but returned in time to make some plays for the Seahawks in their winning Super Bowl effort.  In 2014 Harvin struggled to get untracked for the Seahawks, and was eventually traded to the Jets a little more than a month ago.

Here are Percy Harvin's NFL receiving statistics:












































Although Harvin has often been billed as a big play game changer, he has never had a 1000 yard receiving season in the NFL, and has never caught more than six touchdown passes in a season.  Harvin has never had more than fourteen 20+ yards receptions in any season in the NFL.  With the exception of his one catch season in 2013, Harvin has declined in yards per catch every year he has been in the league, and he has never done better than 13.2 yards per reception.  It has been 25 months since Harvin last caught a touchdown pass, and it has been 36 months since Harvin had a game with more than 1 catch and a yards per catch number over 14.  However much Harvin looks the part of a big play receiver, his numbers tell a different story.  In short, Harvin has never been a big play producer in the NFL, and outside of his nine game 2012 season cut short by injury, he has never performed like a top NFL receiver.

Since coming to the Jets Harvin's struggles have, for the most part, continued.  Harvin was brought aboard for what was presumably a nine game tryout to see if he could be the big play game changer the Jets have lacked for so long.  The early returns have not been promising.  In his first four games Harvin has only exceeded 23 yards receiving in one game, and has only exceeded 56 yards from scrimmage in one game.  Despite the Jets force feeding him the ball to the tune of 32 targets and another 11 rushing attempts in four games, Harvin has managed just 176 receiving yards and 245 yards from scrimmage on 18 receptions and 11 rushes.  That amounts to less than 45 receiving yards and less than 62 yards from scrimmage per game, to go along with zero touchdowns.  That does not sound like the production of a $10 million receiver, nor are those the numbers of a big play game breaker.  This could all be chalked up to small sample size, if it weren't wholly consistent with his production throughout his career.  Harvin unfortunately in his six years in the NFL has been more eye candy than elite receiver, looking the part but rarely playing the part.

One theory upon his acquisition was that even if he himself was not always producing big numbers, his mere presence and omnipresent threat of a big play would open things up for everyone else and make the whole Jets offense better.  Sadly, that has not been the case thus far.  In the four games Harvin has been with the Jets the offense has averaged 14 points, 153 yards passing and 292 total yards per game.  Compare those figures with the seven games before Harvin arrived: 17.3 points, 185 yards passing and 320 total yards per game.  The post- Harvin offensive numbers are down across the board.  While it is too small a sample size to draw any firm conclusions, and the decline in the offense cannot be pinned on Harvin alone, it is at least clear that there is no evidence that Harvin has in any way made the Jets' offense better to date.

Harvin has five more games to put his stamp on the Jets' offense and give some evidence that he is worth the millions he will earn even if his contract is renegotiated.  Monday's game against the Dolphins would be an ideal time to begin to state his case.  The Jets will be without the services of rookie tight end Jace Amaro on Monday.  The erstwhile starter Jeff Cumberland has completely disappeared from the offense since the arrival of Harvin.  Jeremy Kerley, the Jets' slot receiver, has been invisible all year, notwithstanding his semi-breakout performance against the Bills last Monday.  That leaves Eric Decker and Percy Harvin as the only two credible threats in the passing game.  Miami has had an excellent pass defense this year, ranking first in the NFL in yards per attempt and fourth in the NFL in total passing yards allowed, but they have at times given up some very big receiving days.  Five different receivers have had 100+ yard days against the Dolphins this year.  Monday would be a very good time for Percy Harvin to make that six.

In addition to his work in the passing game Harvin presents a major threat as a kick returner.  In every year of his career in which Harvin has played more than one game, he has returned at least one kickoff for a touchdown.  Harvin has yet to have a touchdown return in 2014, but this game against the Dolphins would appear to be the ideal time to keep his streak alive.  The Dolphins are one of only six teams in the NFL to have given up a touchdown on a kickoff return in 2014, and they rank 29th in the NFL in kick return coverage, giving up 28.6 yards per return.  Given the Jets' season long struggles to punch the ball into the end zone on offense, a kickoff return touchdown would be particularly welcome against a stingy Dolphins' defense.

Percy Harvin has been mostly underwhelming since the Jets acquired him from the Seahawks.  He has five more games to prove he is worth the millions he will be paid next year if the Jets choose to retain his services.  On Monday night, at home against a divisional opponent, Harvin has a chance to show he's worth the millions he's being paid.    It's time for Percy Harvin to play like the big play guy he's supposed to be.  It's time for him to take over a game and make the whole offense better.  It's time for him to show that opposing defensive coordinators should be focusing first and foremost on stopping Harvin every week.  If Harvin can provide big plays in the passing game and in the return game maybe the Jets will have a fighting chance to upset the Dolphins.   This is Percy Harvin's time in the spotlight.  Let's hope he shines come Monday night.