When Percy Harvin suffered an ankle injury on November fourth it was the third quarter of a game taking place in Seattle.
Despite the ugly nature of the hit to his ankle, and the obvious pain he was in, the Vikings coaching staff allowed Harvin to re-enter the game and play on. That decision can possibly be added to the list of questionable ones being compiled by those that would like to see Leslie Frazier and his staff gone for good.
Harvin reportedly suffered a grade three sprain, which means a ligament actually tore, and the team held his roster spot for him hoping he would recover in the four to six week timeframe expected of these injuries. Each week, however, Frazier strung along the media (and fans) making it seem like Harvin could actually suit up the following game.
As recently as yesterday, Frazier expressed some optimism that Harvin would be able to do some things in practice that would indicate that he might be available to face the Bears on Sunday.
Instead, news broke late in the day on Wednesday that Harvin would be placed on Injured Reserve, prematurely ending his 2012 campaign that had him in the MVP conversation early on.
The news is grim for everyone that enjoys seeing Harvin play, but it perhaps hits quarterback Christian Ponder and his 32nd ranked passing offense the hardest.
As a receiver, Harvin caught 66 passes for 677 yards through nine games, which both still lead the Vikings. In fact, through 12 games all of the Vikings wide receivers combined have accounted for only 68 catches and 809 yards. His three touchdowns as a receiver match that of all the others combined, as well.
Plus, those stats don’t even begin to measure the full impact could have on a game as a running back and as a return man. His ability to pick up yards, scare opposing coaches, and set the Vikings up with excellent field position has been sorely missed in his absence and that will surely continue.
Another thing that bothers me (and quite possibly only me) is that Harvin’s ankle injury occurred on a run play. Now, I don’t mind mixing it up and getting creative with how you use a talent like Harvin, but I have been harping on something all year long and this now gives me the chance to use hindsight to hammer a point home.
Why sacrifice a third round draft pick to trade up a handful of spots in the second round of the Draft to “steal” a running back like Toby Gerhart if you aren’t going to use the guy?
Through 12 games the Stanford product has only touched the ball 33 times. After a rough game against San Francisco in week three, Gerhart has seen his role diminish to almost nothing, averaging less than one carry per game over the last seven weeks.
For as creative as the Vikings are in their use of Harvin, and as forgiving of disastrous performances as they are with Ponder, you would think they could find a better way to utilize the backup running back for which they invested so much to acquire. It isn’t like they didn’t know how dangerously thin they were at wide receiver and that Harvin’s industrial-sized work made him an even bigger injury risk than he normally is.
After an amazing half of a season, however, one of our last images of Harvin’s 2012 season will be him yelling at Frazier on the sideline out of frustration for a series of red zone calls that resulted in a Blair Walsh field goal.
That spat on the sideline sets up perfectly what will surely be a drama-filled offseason for Harvin and the Vikings, previewed last offseason over a brief period of time, as Harvin and the Vikings could very well end up in a stalemate over his contract status.
2013 is set to be the final year of his contract and he is expected to make only about $1.55 million. Harvin has been rumored to consider 2012 a “contract year,” however, and it is obvious that things could get very ugly very fast if a contract extension cannot be worked out.
And it may not be easy.
Harvin, like many fans, probably views himself as one of the top offensive threats in the NFL. His agent Joel Segal probably does little to temper Harvin’s expectations of big money, as he is known for getting incredibly robust contracts in place for lesser talents than Harvin, and I would not be shocked to see him demanding top dollar at the negotiating table.
Meanwhile, the Vikings have on their hands a temperamental player that came out of college proceeded by stories of his entitled attitude, and that even once hurled a weight at head coach Brad Childress in the training facility. Oh, and while he had only ever missed three games prior to this injury, he also seems to be a weekly mainstay on the injury report.
Going to the internet and browsing Harvin’s highlight reels will make you think paying the man is a no-brainer, but I just have a hunch the decision will not be such an easy one inside Winter Park this offseason.
Get ready for a Harvin-filled offseason, folks.