After the 2014 season, the New York Jets signed Darrelle Revis to a 5 year, 70 million dollar contract with 39 million guaranteed. The structure of the deal allows them a relatively reasonable out after 2016 (about a 700K difference between dead money and cap savings) and a full out after 2017 (a 8 million dollar difference between dead money and cap savings).
The decision to sign Revis made sense from a public relations/business perspective along with from a football perspective at the time. Cornerback was a barren position for the Jets and Revis played good football in 2014. He would seem to be a short term solution, who could then transition into a Charles Woodson type role at safety at the back end of his contract. At the same time, he would add “name” credibility to a team without “names” to sell around. (If you think business decisions don’t factor into the Jets football decisions, you haven’t been paying attention).
The rate of money invested in Revis was concerning but with how the deal was structured, if he could give the Jets three quality seasons, you would have to feel okay about the contract. The first 9 games of the 2015 season were smooth sailing, as Revis remained one of the best corners in the league and was a defensive playmaker coming up with 3 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries in those 9 games.
However, after a rough outing against DeAndrew Hopkins things began to go south for Revis. He missed two games with an injury, struggled with Dez Bryant and closed the year with an ugly performance against Sammy Watkins.
Many thought Revis would be back with a vengeance in 2016, spurred by chatter about his demise. The great ones usually rise to the occasion, right? Unfortunately, after scoffing at the insinuation that he was out of shape, he in fact admitted a few weeks later to those reports being true.
It was foolish for the Jets coaching staff to believe that Revis could continue being the “Island” he was in his prime. The tape from 2015 and common sense should have pointed them away from that. A smart strategy would have been to regularly double a team’s top wideout, especially if they are an elite player like AJ Green, and let Revis lock down a team’s secondary option. New England succeeded with this strategy in 2014 and it makes sense in a league that increasingly makes it difficult for “Island Corners” to exist.Revis’ coverage problems are a separate issue. He can’t single up players like Green or Terrelle Pryor anymore…few can. There have been flashes of him rounding into coverage shape against lesser receivers and there is no reason he can’t be a competent coverage corner who focuses mostly on secondary targets.
What is a bigger concern is Revis’ effort level and complete lack of physicality. The game tape from this season shows a player who has no interest or ability to tackle, making suggestions of him moving to safety laughable. The problems are not isolated to a single game and show a problematic trend in Revis’ game.
First off, Revis was always a strong tackler both in terms of technique and aggression. These are not “low effort” plays but they are ugly missed tackles due to poor form and much more tentativeness than we are used to seeing from him. As of now, he is no longer a reliable open field tackler, a major problem for any cornerback.
Now we move to the really troubling stuff. Revis was always solid in run support. These plays below are flat out, low effort “I don’t feel like disengaging from my block and now I am going to lightly jog after the ball carrier and not bother to dive” plays. This type of football is toxic.
The lack of effort and tackling is not just there in the run game. Teams have repeatedly thrown wide receiver screens at Revis because he is showing no interest in getting off blocks and making a tackle.
Revis always played with a certain fire on the field. It has not been present since the Texans game last year. So far the Jets have paid for half a quality season and now nearly a full season of injuries, limited effort and inconsistent coverage.
Every player is accountable for their own work and actions on the field. However, it is inevitable there will be a trickle down impact when a team’s leader, most well known player and future Hall of Famer comes in out of shape and puts forth this type of effort on tape. Everybody on the defense sees these plays and if this level of effort is okay for Revis, who many likely came up idolizing, why is not okay for them?
So, what should the Jets do? In the near term, they need Revis to increase his effort and regularly cover team’s second best receivers, while doubling their top target. At the end of the year, the Jets need to take a hard look at whether it is worth moving on from him immediately or waiting until the end of 2017. As of now, moving on at the end of this year might make more sense than anybody could have predicted.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com