January 03, 2010
New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis(notes) is putting together one of the great seasons of all time at his position. No matter who he's faced this year, Revis has not only shut some of the game's best receivers down, but he's done it solo, with man coverage, in a way that allows the Jets' coaching staff to shade other receivers. His value isn't just in what he does -- it's also in what the team doesn't have to do to make up for his coverage liabilities. Because, quite frankly, he doesn't appear to have any.
It's not just that he's negated so many big names this year (the table tells the story). The real revelation is how well the Jets have shut down #1 receivers of any note. According to Football Outsiders' defensive stats, the average yards-per-target for passes thrown to #1 receivers in the NFL this season is 8.1. The Jets have allowed an amazing 4.24 yards per target to those same types of receivers -- almost half the league average and the NFL's best by a huge margin (the Philadelphia Eagles are second with a 5.43 average to the top guys).
When you have a cornerback of this magnitude, it changes your entire defense. Your safeties can play the run as well as the pass, and your linebackers don't have to bail out of their lanes to help with the short aerial stuff. That's one reason the Jets' run defense has actually been better since they lost mammoth nose tackle Kris Jenkins(notes) in Week 6 against the Bills. No defender is better than Revis at trailing a fast receiver on a downfield route, and he can turn right around and defend a slant perfectly.
So, in case you've been wondering, this is why Chad Ochocinco has been Tweeting nervously all week. He's the next guy to be marooned on Revis Island when his Cincinnati Bengals take on the Jets tonight in the NFL's regular-season finale. Ocho's having an excellent season, especially when you consider the team's overall passing issues and conversion to a power running game. But a trip to Revis Island (especially, as Ocho himself points out, with no resorts or Tattoo-style emissaries shouting "De plane! De plane!") could end his regular season on a very sour note.
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