Archive for July, 2013

Percy Harvin will require surgery

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

For the first time since the trade, I looked at the players that were available with the 25th pick this year. Maybe that was unfair. It probably was. Danny Kelly at Field Gulls is quick to remind everyone that even the biggest of 6-year contracts is a marathon not a sprint.

Like a lot of other people though, I was swept away on a wave of euphoria when the Seahawks traded for Percy Harvin.

Pete Carroll knew the guy and tried to recruit him for USC. Darrell Bevell worked with him in Minnesota. And John Schneider was the man who drafted Russell Wilson.

That was reassuring at the time. It helped fans cast away any doubts about the deal — and boy were there doubts.

Before any hint of a trade emerged, I wrote an article titled “The argument against Percy Harvin to Seattle“.

Injuries. Drama. Percy World.

For every sublime kick return, juking touchdown, piece of brilliance… there always seemed to be a negative. Or two. Or three.

Just months after spending a bounty of picks (including a first rounder) and giving up a $67m contract, there’s more bad news for Harvin. Now we have to wait and see what surgery means.

End of season? Or can he realistically have some kind of impact later on?

Is it hypocritical to celebrate a trade then contemplate it’s worth at the first sign of bad news? Absolutely.

I’d also argue that as a fan you want every big move to come off. You buy into what the team sells because, well, why not? It’s not irresponsible to get caught up in the moment. Life throws enough at you without the need to stop yourself getting excited about your football team making a big trade.

Yet if you put yourself in the shoes of any other NFL fan tonight… you’d be using the words, “I told you so.”

Not unfairly, they’ll say they saw this coming. Harvin injured? Percy drama? Par for the course.

If San Francisco had dealt for Harvin and were facing this news, you’d argue you’d seen it coming. And yet you still defended Seattle’s decision to trade for him. Didn’t you?

I know I did.

My main concern tonight isn’t Seattle’s reputation after making a big move for Harvin, or how the team will do without him. The drafting of Russell Wilson alone has bought a decade of gaudy reviews for this front office while the team wasn’t exactly light at receiver prior to making the trade.

No, what bothers me more is the knowledge that Golden Tate is in a contract year. Tate is going to be expected to pick up the slack now, with others. The idea of maybe having to let him walk next year after a blockbuster season in relief of Harvin makes me cringe.

Imagine those talks next year. Tate lights it up in 2013. His rep’s point to the injured Harvin and his $67m deal. Although he can’t expect to earn the same, it’ll make it very hard for the Seahawks to keep their man. This is assuming Tate can have a big year of course, but last season’s evidence gives me no reason to question why he can’t.

Especially in light of the news today.

Premature concern, perhaps. But it’s not an unlikely scenario is it?

Add to that the fact Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Russell Wilson, K.J. Wright and others will all eventually need to be paid. Wouldn’t you like to keep Michael Bennett beyond 2013 if he prospers?

Percy Harvin is earning on average $3m more a year than anyone else on this team. He has a deal that pays $25.5m in guarantees and a possible total of $67m over six years.

Harvin’s massive contract doesn’t prevent any of those players re-signing alone, but it makes it more of a challenge. Every week he isn’t on the field, that’ll be harder to take.

This might be a knee jerk reaction, but I don’t think it’s an unfair reaction. This is a trade that divided opinion in the NFL. Seahawks fans bought it for the most part because it was exciting. Myself included.

Whether we like it or not, Harvin has now been banged up enough and missed sufficient games in his career to flirt with being ‘injury prone’ rather than ‘robust’ for his size.

For a team that had been built through the draft and with cost effective moves in free agency, the Harvin trade was a departure from that. Whatever your view on James Carpenter, if he’s a one contract and done guy in the NFL it’ll have very little lasting impact.

The same could’ve been said for whoever was drafted by Seattle at #25 this year. The Harvin deal is a different beast entirely. There are $25.5m guaranteed reasons why.

The Seahawks took a swing and that in itself should be applauded. Let’s just hope Steve Bartman’s sat in the crowd.

Ian Rapoport describes the situation between Harvin and Seattle as “a little tense” in this video. It seems the Seahawks wanted Harvin to play and believed he could play with the problem.

Edit – I feel slightly better about today’s decision after reading this article by Mike Garafolo. Although you have to ask, if this issue really has been troubling Harvin since the spring, why is it being dealt with in August?

And… we’re still waiting for Percy news

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

So the wait goes on.

The Seahawks aren’t saying anything today. Percy Harvin isn’t saying anything today. And so far the usual gaggle of national journalists haven’t been able to prize any definitive answers out of his agent.

And the fans just sit here waiting. Wondering what on earth is going on.

There are so many questions that need answering.

But it’s hard to disagree with Mike Florio, who suggests no news may be bad news…

It’s… possible that the recommendation from Dr. Bryan Kelly was for surgery, and that ultimately Harvin may decide not to start his time in Seattle by going under the knife. Until he makes a decision, there’s no reason for anyone involved to say anything.

And so everyone involved is saying nothing. And the silence quickly has become deafening. It could only be a matter of time before we all find out that, indeed, Harvin will have surgery to repair the slight labrum tear in his hip.

Harvin’s gone from “flying around” at OTA’s one minute to possibly needing season-ending surgery the next — and it all just seems a bit innocuous, a little surreal.

For a guy who’s had a laundry list of issues in his career, this move to Seattle was supposed to be the clean break he needed. And before a ball has even been thrown his way in anger, he’s already creating a season’s worth of drama in just a matter of days.

I do fear the worst and I don’t think there’s anything knee jerk about that. Rest assured a lot of people are going to be asking questions about this trade, even if he decides — after all — that he’s ready to start working out at camp and skip surgery.

Because once again, Harvin’s in the news for the wrong reasons.

The only way he’ll answer those questions is with production on the field. That’ll be tough to do stood on the sideline in a hoody.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TE, Washington) vs California

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Very, very intrigued by this guy.

Tom Pelissero speaks to Schneider on Percy

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

More good work from USA Today’s Tom Pelissero today.

Things I found interesting today

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

The Seahawks signed this guy…

D.J. Fluker is struggling, which shouldn’t be all that surprising…

This is a semi-interesting take on the Harvin situation…

And I kind of agree with this…

Hey look! Actual information on Percy Harvin’s hip

Friday, July 26th, 2013

Kudos to Tom, master of getting a non-pointless answer

This piece by Tom Pelissero is worth reading. So read it and embrace journalism.

For starters, it contains noteworthy quotes from Pete Carroll and not just the regurgitated-by-everyone nothingness of the press conference yesterday.

Secondly, it gives us a breakdown into what is actually happening with Percy Harvin’s injury situation.

Yesterday we saw the same pointless quotes Tweeted out en masse and a load of guess work from the national press pack. One guy saying don’t worry, the other saying Harvin’s arms and legs had fallen off. Or something like that.

(Note: With the exception of Ian Rapoport, who appeared to be doing an admirable job cutting through the bluster)

Back to Pelissero’s info:

“The concern is Harvin might have a partially torn labrum, but two people familiar with the injury told USA TODAY Sports the Seahawks are hopeful surgery — and the lengthy recovery that follows — won’t be necessary, pending another MRI. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because injury details were to remain private.”

This is the best news possible given the circumstances. We want the team to be confident he won’t need surgery, rather than fearing it’s inevitable. Of course, the next MRI could say something very different. At least Pelissero’s words above give us an actual indication into the teams position and offer a far-from-bleak scenario.

However, the quotes from Carroll are eye catching:

“If you have hip surgery, it’s a lot longer than the season,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told USA TODAY Sports on Friday. “Hip surgery, he’s not going to play for the season.”

So there we go. A few people were debating on the blog yesterday that surgery would mean 10-12 weeks out and he could be back for the playoffs. Carroll doesn’t see it that way.

Hip surgery = end of season. Simple as that.

I needed an article like this after yet another vague press conference yesterday. It’s staggering how quickly the questions moved onto other completely useless subjects despite the lack of information being gleamed from Carroll on a potentially huge subject.

The first question was about the great crowd present at camp for pity’s sake. Then three questions on Harvin’s injury. One asking what was happening. One asking whether it was possibly a labrum injury. One asking how concerning it was.

Carroll ploughed on in his usual style, saying barely anything. Which is his prerogative. And after 1 minute 38 seconds it was on to how “exciting” it was to see James Carpenter back and how good Tarvaris Jackson looked on day one.

Kill me now.

(not literally)

So yeah, thank goodness somebody at USA Today managed to get more.

Probably using the age-old technique of asking questions until, you know, you get the information you require.

Carroll & Schneider will be crossing fingers on Harvin’s labrum

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

This seems like a long time ago now...

This will be an excruciating wait for Seahawks fans.

And also key members of the teams front office.

Percy Harvin has a hip injury. The seriousness isn’t evident at this stage, but everyone’s falling over themselves to have a good old guess. John Clayton says teammates believes it isn’t serious. Adam Schefter, who like Clayton works for ESPN, claims people he’s spoken to are “concerned”.

Talk about mixed signals.

Everyone is saying something. Except the people that matter.

Those people are the medical staff who will conduct the now infamous “second opinion” on Harvin’s suspected torn labrum.

We should know by now that there’s often no smoke without fire. Clearly Harvin has an issue. The Seahawks have to hope it’s the kind of problem that requires minimal treatment and perhaps keeps him out for a few weeks. A quick google search suggests that is a possibility if it’s only a minor tear.

Ultimately he’s going to miss time, now it’s just about damage limitation.

The worst case scenario is it’s a substantial tear and could lead to 3-4 months in the treatment room. If it’s as bad as that, the chances are you won’t see Harvin in a Seahawks uniform until the last few weeks of the season — if at all.

This could be season ending.

What it won’t be is season ending for Seattle’s hopes of competing in the NFC. There’s enough talent at receiver to compensate for the potential loss of Harvin. Golden Tate is in a contract year so needs no motivation. Sidney Rice played an underrated role last year and, more crucially, stayed healthy for the most part. Doug Baldwin will keep making plays and Zach Miller was the go-to-guy for Russell Wilson to close last season.

Yet it’d be hugely dissatisfying to see a Seahawks offense minus their new star, particularly in the week two encounter against their arch enemy the 49ers. Harvin was supposed to be the difference maker. A true elite talent to bring everything together.

To lose him before he’s even received a pass would be infuriating.

We’ll have to wait and see if it’s that serious, but Pete Carroll and John Schneider will be pleading for good news. Harvin didn’t just cost a small fortune in draft picks, he was also given a $67m contract. His average salary is higher than anyone else’s on the roster by a healthy $3m.

The likes of Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas and Golden Tate are cost-effective right now due to intelligent drafting. You can add other names to the list too. Eventually they’ll need to be paid. Signing Harvin already made life a little more difficult in this regard. If he’s not even on the field, then his contract is positively smothering.

Simply put, the Seahawks won’t want to risk losing players over the next two years because they went big on a guy who isn’t on the field.

Here’s an example for you. Let’s say it’s bad news and Harvin misses four months of the season. Golden Tate takes his role in the team and excels, becoming even more productive than last year. What do you do? Tate, who is a free agent in 2014, will expect to be paid. Rest assured his agent will point to Harvin’s massive contract. The chances are he’d have to walk.

Some have been quick to play down Harvin’s health struggles, but here are the facts:

– In 2009 and 2010 he suffered severe problems with migraine’s and was constantly listed on the injury report as a consequence. These problems, thankfully, appear to be in the past.

– Since turning pro he’s suffered ankle, hamstring, hip, shoulder and finger injuries.

– In 2009 he was listed as questionable seven times. He was on the injury report eight times in 2010, seven times in 2011 and five times in 2012 before being placed on injured reserve (missing Minnesota’s last five games).

Now a lot of the time he was listed on injury report and still played, but for whatever reason he has had more injuries than you’d usually be comfortable with. The one big justification so far has been that he hasn’t missed time in bulk until the end of last season. But you could argue he’s one torn labrum away from being injury prone.

Hopefully next week we’ll learn it’s nothing major and we can get back to imagining the Wilson-to-Harvin connection that got us through a long winded first day of the draft and most of the summer. However, everyone will be covering their eyes for a few days.

There are 67-million reasons Carroll and Schneider will be too.

Percy Harvin – torn labrum?

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Not the kind of news fans were hoping to see at the start of training camp. And this is why championships are not won on paper in July/August.

Johnny Manziel: Being 20 is not an excuse

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Well, at least it's not a Dolphins cap...

It’s impossible to ignore the big story in college football right now.

This is how it goes. Johnny Manziel allegedly had a little too much fun on Bourbon Street one night. As a consequence, he struggled to wake up in the morning and was sent home/kicked out of the Manning Passing Academy.

Manziel offered a very different set of events at the SEC media event last week. He says his phone died, he overslept. He’d been busy, he was tired and it was just one of those things.

I’m not entirely sure many believe Manziel’s side of the story, but it hasn’t stopped a lot of people supporting him on this issue. It’s not just the army of Texas A&M homer’s either. As Sally Jenkins at the Washington Post points out: “He’s 20. And you know what else? It’s summer.”

Sorry, but I’m not having that. Not one bit.

Admittedly most 20-year-old’s attending college spend a lot of time partying. Many will miss the occasional lecture, meeting or seminar.

Having attended University in the United Kingdom where it’s legal to drink alcohol from the age of 18, I can assure you I pushed my liver to the limit. And ultimately that led to a few missed alarm calls along the way. It happens to everyone. That’s what regular 20-year-old’s do.

The thing is, Johnny Manziel isn’t a regular 20-year-old.

Regular 20-year-old’s don’t receive multi-million dollar contracts to play in the NFL.

However much you want to debate it, these kids aren’t like me and you. They aren’t. There’s so much more at stake for them.

Is it unfair? Nope. It’s part of the (well paid) job.

If Manziel doesn’t want to be a quarterback, he can give up at any time. While ever he strives to become a professional sportsman, he has to know that life for the next year or two is going to be one long job interview.

C’est la vie. It’s how the NFL works. Either embrace it or choose a different path.

It’s not even just about allegedly enjoying himself a little too much on one particular evening. Had Manziel missed a random class at school, the excuse of him ‘being 20′ would be a little more tolerable. Going on an all-nighter the evening before the Manning Passing Academy begins, as reported, is just being a bonehead.

Again, this is one long job interview for any prospective franchise quarterback. The MPA is a fantastic platform to put yourself in the shop window. All of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL took part in the event before turning pro. It’s one of a series of opportunities to project what you’re all about. Manziel’s absence says more about him than anything he could’ve hoped to achieve on the field.

For me the MPA is on the quarterback check list. It’s as important as any work out, whether it’s the combine, pro-day or Senior Bowl. Basically any non-game event where you have a chance to compete alongside and against your peers. If it wasn’t as important as that, why does every single top college quarterback attend without fail, year after year?

Had he not shown up for a Senior Bowl work out, or the combine — people would ask serious questions.

What’s the difference?

Age is no excuse or justification here. Not if he wants to be a 21 or 22-year-old starting quarterback in the NFL, earning NFL money. You can’t have it both ways. Whether you like it or not, reliability, time keeping, responsibility, professionalism, dedication and the ability to handle fame and pressure is all part of the job description. Football might be considered the ultimate team sport by some, but no other sport has a single position that places so much responsibility on one persons shoulders.

It’s not about expecting these players to be lifeless robots, as some have suggested. It’s about picking your moments. Knowing when to have fun and when to get down to business. That’s pretty basic stuff right there, whether you’re a prospective NFL quarterback or working at Burger King.

This particular story won’t have gone unnoticed by each of the 32 front offices in the league. Fortunately he has a full season of football to bounce back. But this is the kind of thing teams will investigate over the next few months. It won’t be unfair for any of the GM’s to ponder whether the 21-year-old Manziel is likely to be much more mature and responsible than the 20-year-old version.

My greatest fear is that he doesn’t have any. Fear, that is. It’s no secret that Manziel comes from a well-to-do family. For a lot of people, the fear of being unable to earn and therefore support drives them on. Take that pressure away and what have you got to lose?

That’s not to say Manziel isn’t motivated. I don’t know the guy, or how badly he wants the NFL and the money that comes with it. I do know he’s a very talented individual who deserves all the on-field plaudits he receives. You don’t get to his level of talent without working at it. Technically I’m not convinced his game will translate perfectly to the pro’s, but I also wouldn’t bet against him.

However, when I see Tweets like this…

…I can’t help but have concerns. Apparently that was a reaction to receiving a parking ticket picked up during a fishing trip. At best it’s a poor choice of words. He quickly deleted it (although the damage was done), apologised and then wrote another Tweet asking people to live a day in his shoes.

Really?

I do appreciate the pressure that comes with being a high profile quarterback playing for one of the biggest sporting institutions in the United States. I also hope Johnny understands that everyone gets the occasional parking ticket (I received one just last month). While a lot of people don’t have to deal with the media spotlight, a Nick Saban defense and the expectations of thousands, they do have the pressure of important things like bills, long hours, low pay and in some cases — mere survival.

Perhaps the best thing for Johnny would be to live a day in our shoes. Get some perspective and realise the kind of opportunity he may just waste.

Interview with Williams, Foster and Whitner

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

I had the chance to speak with Kevin Williams (Vikings), Ramon Foster (Steelers) and Donte Whitner (49ers) earlier today. Most of the piece was about the London games this year, but I had a chance to ask a few topical questions too. I’ve cut them up in the audio above.

Best line? Probably Kevin Williams on the Percy Harvin trade: “Initially you’re like, ‘What in the world are they doing?'”