According to PFW Vikings correspondent Tom Pelissero's count, Percy Harvin was on the field for 30 offensive snaps in Sunday's loss to the Buccaneers.
Um, and why is that exactly?
To the naked eye, it doesn't appear that Harvin is injured. Head coach Leslie Frazier was asked Monday why Harvin is not on the field more on offense.
"Yeah, there are certain packages he's going to be a part of," Frazier said. "We try to judiciously use his services. He's such a major factor for what we do on offense. Sometimes just his presence on the field, even though he might not be getting the football, is a plus for our offense.
"But, we have to be smart with how we use him for different reasons. I think what we're doing right now is the right way to approach it."
Frazier did not explain those "different reasons" further. Is it related to a medical situation? Have his chronic migraines resurfaced? Is there a stamina problem? We don't know.
What we do know is that when Harvin is on the field, things happen. Harvin led the team in catches with seven (on nine targets) and had two carries for 18 yards out of the backfield. He also cracked the strong safety on Adrian Peterson's second TD run and seemed to be the only other offensive threat (besides Peterson) who could make any impact.
You have an offensive team that is severely limited. Peterson is facing eight-man boxes most of the time. The other primary receivers, Bernard Berrian and Michael Jenkins, are nearly one-trick ponies and their tricks are not that fancy. The Vikings clearly miss Sidney Rice to balance things out and give some sort of dangerous downfield threat.
Of course, they also miss Brett Favre, the 2009 version anyway. Donovan McNabb only can do so much. His age and limitations are becoming more clear with each week, even as he improved from his ungodly opener.
Harvin can help. The fact that he is hardly out there when the Vikings do penetrate the red zone (on the field for only three of those 14 snaps inside the 20) is simply inexcusable. Want to take him out on the goal line? Fine. Want to put a pitch count on him? Understandable given his brief injury history. But don't make him a part-time specialist on offense.
Or on special teams. Frazier's reasoning in Week One for replacing Harvin for Lorenzo Booker on kickoffs was that the coach knew the Chargers would kick away from him. Isn't that what you want? A guaranteed starting position near the 40-yard line?
The mere threat of Harvin on the field sometimes is just as good as giving him the ball. Remember the great NFL Films segment from XXXII? Coincidentally, Broncos RB Terrell Davis also was plagued by a migraine in the game and Mike Shanahan told Davis he had to be on the field for one more play. Shanahan called a bootleg for John Elway and reasoned that if Davis was not on the field, the Packers would know it would not be a run near the goal line. The coach was right and Elway scored.
The Vikings could take a lesson from this. Harvin needs to be a bigger part of the gameplan.