The blame game for the team's passing woes are being directed at Christian Ponder, but Leslie…
Without Harvin, other WRs have done little
Harvin is something on an anomaly in the NFL – he isn't a player who is on the field all the time, but was as impactful as any receiver in the league when he is. Even when healthy, Harvin wasn't on the field every down like the Brandon Marshalls, Calvin Johnsons, Roddy Whites and Reggie Waynes of the NFL world. Harvin has always been the type of player that runs high-energy routes and is on the field for approximately three of every four plays.
In terms of the percentage of plays Harvin was on the field prior to his Week 9 injury, these are his play percentages (not number of plays) that he was on the field in the first nine games of the season, with the last being the game he was injured in Seattle: 80, 77, 67, 76, 60, 80 and 63.
To put his numbers into perspective, it's necessary to see what the other Vikings wide receivers did at the same time. Here are their play percentage numbers:
Michael Jenkins: 80, 91, 81, 55, 57, 87, 40, 65 and 67
Jerome Simpson: 0, 0, 0, 83, 35, 0, 73, 100 and 65
Devin Aromashodu: 42, 0, 49, 9, 58, 60, 4, 0 and 22
Stephen Burton: 19, 17, 13, 0, 22, 14, 29, 22 and 0.
In the three games, the Vikings have played since, the only clear beneficiary has been Jarius Wright, who was inactive for the first nine games. In the three games since Harvin has been out of the lineup, the play percentages for the Vikings wide receivers have been parceled out as follows:
Michael Jenkins: 66, 62 and 75
Jerome Simpson: 57, 44 and 71
Jarius Wright: 43, 62 and 49
Stephen Burton: 29, 21 and 22
Devin Aromashodu: 19, 39 and 20
What do the numbers tell us? Not much in the way of good things. It would be thought that, with Harvin out, the Vikings would be relying more on their veteran receivers. But just the opposite has been the case.
In the nine games with Harvin, Jenkins averaged being on the field 69.2 percent of the offensive plays, catching 26 passes for 295 yards and one touchdown. In the three games since Harvin has gone down, Jenkins average field time has dropped to 67.7 percent and he has caught just four passes for 29 yards.
In the five games before Harvin went down that Simpson played in, despite averaging being on the field 71.2 percent of the time, he caught just eight passes for 109 yards – an average of 13.6 yards per reception. In the three games since Harvin has been gone, he has caught six passes for 54 yards – a 9.0 yard average – and has seen his on-field time drop to 57.3 percent.
Pre-injury for Harvin, Aromashodu averaged being on the field for 34.9 percent of the team's offensive plays. In that span, he caught 10 passes for 151 yards. In the three games post-injury, he has caught just one pass and has been on the field just 26 percent of plays.
The only two players whose time has gone up have been Burton and Wright. Burton was at 19.4 percent pre-Harvin injury to 24 percent post-injury, but he has just two receptions all season. The only real beneficiary has been Wright. He has gone from not playing to being on the field for 51.3 percent of the plays in the three games since Harvin has gone done. Perhaps even more telling is that, in those three games, he has caught 11 passes for 127 yards and one touchdown. The other four wide receivers combined have caught 11 passes for 114 yards and no TDs.
Prior to going down in Week 9, Harvin had 62 catches for 677 yards and three touchdowns. The rest of the wide receivers on the team combined to catch 46 passes for 568 yards and one TD.
It would seem the Vikings pass offense for the wide receivers has been so based around Harvin that, even when he's gone, his replacement is doing the same kind of job for the Vikings that Harvin did before he was injured. The rest of the receivers have been relatively unused, both before and after Harvin's injury.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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