RENTON — While reporters nationally and locally search the Seahawks for more palace intrigue in the Percy Harvin ouster, there is another aspect getting scant attention. Rookie WR Kevin Norwood knows it better than anyone.
As with many of his teammates Friday afternoon, he didn’t believe the news at first of the trade of the Seahawks’ most explosive player to the New York Jets. Norwood boarded the third bus, scanning for Harvin on one of the first two buses. Norwood doesn’t use social media, so he kept on looking for Harvin boarding the plane to St. Louis.
After arrival and in team meetings, coaches told Norwood, a fourth-round pick from Alabama, that he was active for the game. For the first time in his brief NFL career, he was 100 percent go.
“I was like, ‘Thank you, Jesus!’” he said. “Let’s go!”
He meant no ill will toward Harvin.
“I was very excited — I started praying,” he said. “It’s my turn now. I started to get into the playbook making sure I’m getting it right.”
After a Wednesday afternoon spent listening to players and coaches dodge substantive answers to Harvin questions amid the ominous 3-3 start to the season, it was fun to hear Norwood talk about his advancement due to Harvin’s firing.
But even before filling in as s receiver, Norwood had another new experience – filling in on the kickoff coverage team for another fallen teammate, FB Derrick Coleman, who broke his foot during warmups. Norwood was victimized on a 75-yard return that set up the Rams’ first touchdown.
“That was crazy,” he said, smiling. “My head was on a swivel. As the Lord knows, I got stiff-armed.”
Norwood’s day was fairly representative of a tumultuous afternoon in St. Louis that began as a mess and morphed into a glimpse of a more robust future. The Seahawks’ final three possessions produced touchdowns on drives of 82, 91 and 80 yards.
The Rams’ defense was so helpless against QB Russell Wilson in full flower that Coach Jeff Fisher went with a high-risk fake punt deep in their own territory, figuring he had a better chance to get a first down than he did in keeping the Seahawks from a touchdown after a punt.
He was right.
But the fact that the offense found its footing, for perhaps the first time this season, was why the feeling at the VMAC was more upbeat than might have been expected for a team under scrutiny and upon a seasonal turning point: Teams with four losses before midseason rarely make the playoffs, much less the Super Bowl.
“The mood is optimistic,” said WR Doug Baldwin. “We finally got going.”
It’s no surprise that Norwood and Baldwin are among the happier campers following the purge of Harvin. While Norwood got in the NFL books with his first career catch, a four-yard screen pass, Baldwin had seven receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown in the return to his old slot position vacated by Harvin, with whom he had a fight in late August.
Baldwin, who said he texted Harvin his best wishes, has pushed on from the conflicts.
“When you spent 12 to 14 hours with these guys every day, you’re not going to like everybody,” he said. “You’re not going to agree about everything.
“However, the biggest problem we have in media is with every loss, everything is magnified. When you win, everything gets covered up. It’s just the nature of the business.”
In other words, there was plenty of workplace crankiness last season, but 16-3 obscured nearly all of it.
What deserved some magnification Sunday was that for parts of the game, the offense was down to a third-string tight end, a third-string center, a second-string fullback and was missing its most explosive player. Yet they were a couple of inches from a two-point conversion and a tie.
As a factor in game strategy, the absence of Harvin was the least of offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s problems.
“The game was tough as it was,” he said. “The fullback, the tight end, shuffling groups. We had to be flexible.
“We just flopped around a little at first. We had some mental mistakes.”
Bevell, who was coaching in Minnesota when Harvin began his career with the Vikings, was careful to avoid laying blame upon Harvin, whose reported insubordination had to have been the biggest issue for him.
“I was disappointed, you know,” he said. “I was disappointed. I did have a history with him, and I thought it would be a different outcome. But I guess that’s just the way it went.
“I think we have a phenomenal atmosphere here. It’s led by Coach Carroll. I think he gives the guys great freedom to be who they want to be. I think he sets the tone for the whole program. It’s an upbeat program. Obviously we are very positive here.”
Now that the coaches and players are getting past the Friday afternoon bushwhack of a premier player, all they need to do is win a game to prove they are over themselves.
Baldwin: Lynch ‘mutiny’ untrue
Baldwin offered no corrections to the minutes regarding coverage of the Harvin trade that was the talk of the NFL nation. Except for one thing.
Regarding the report that Lynch was reluctant to get on the bus to the airport after learning of the trade, he said, “Let me clear that up – that’s stupid.
“He went to ask somebody, and found out it was true, and got back on the bus. There was no hesitation.”
Asked about the sports debate between talent and chemistry and whether it is possible to have addition by subtraction, Baldwin paused and offered a small smile.
That’s a good question,” he said. “I don’t have an answer.”