Plenty of virtual ink was spent this week trying to figure out the "real reason" why Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin was placed on injured reserve this week. It was difficult to believe that a sprained ankle could ultimately cost a player as tough as Harvin nearly half the season, and remains so, but no reliable explanations have surfaced from either the team or the player.
So as the week wraps up, let's leave this issue on a football note. Harvin was at his open-field best in the nine games he played this season, so much so that his performance remains the league standard even after a month away from the field.
As the chart shows, Harvin's average of 8.5 yards after the catch on his 62 receptions remains the league's best. In gross terms, he's only 2 yards off the pace of New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker, who has played three additional games and has 30 more receptions.
In addition, Pro Football Focus (PFF) credited Harvin with causing 22 missed tackles by opponents this season. That remains the league's best among receivers and tight ends, and there are only nine running backs in the league with more.
In short, Harvin demonstrated this season just how much value he can add to an offense. Yards after the catch and missed tackles are, for the most part, generated by the individual. Whether he is lined up at receiver, running back or as a kickoff returner, Harvin has an exceptional ability to find the open area of the field and move through it. Whether it is vision or instinct, he always knows where to run.
There is no doubt Harvin produced a couple of quixotic moments this season as well, from his trade request during minicamp to some choice sideline words for coach Leslie Frazier shortly before his Week 9 injury. A friend of mine recently compared Harvin to the Hugo "Hurley" Reyes character from "LOST." Weird things seem to happen around him, but on the whole, I would think the Vikings saw enough positives this season to enter into contract extension talks this offseason.
That's just a guess, but Harvin seems too talented to give up on. And he's still only 24 years old. Some of the NFL's best players require intense maintenance, and in Harvin's case I would think it would be worth the trouble.