Revis Could Have "Manning-Like" Effect On Patriots
Darrelle Revis has spent his entire career on an island. While fans have already welcomed included Revis Island on the Massachusetts shore, the New England Patriots will be placing him in a group by himself. He will be asked to match-up alone against most of the elite receivers, such as Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, and Demaryius Thomas.
It cannot be overstated how rare one-on-one coverage is in the NFL. Most defenses have “checks and balances,” where two or more players are responsible for one offensive player. Many defenses do not account for the quarterback, making each play 11-on-10. Someone confident and skilled enough to account for the likes of Calvin Johnson is invaluable. Two defenders capable of such a feat, Aqib Talib and Darelle Revis, each signed big contracts this offseason with new teams.
If Revis can make the game ten-on-nine, often removing the opposing offense’s most talented player, the game turns in favor of the Patriots’ defense from the start.
Revis has the potential to challenge opposing offenses more than the departed Aqib Talib did last season. Unfortunately, like Talib, Revis arrives in his new home with an injury history that should lighten the fans’ excitement. But, when Revis is fully operational, he has a Peyton Manning-like effect on the defense. To add to the hesitation of some, Revis has never been outstanding statistically, as his career-high in interceptions is six back in 2009 with the New York Jets. His strength is that he never gets targeted. He could play a whole game against Calvin Johnson and finish with no stats. That could be his best game of the season.
Revis will elevate the play of his teammates and, like Manning can do with offensive players, he will inflate their stats. Defensive lineman Chandler Jones and linebacker Rob Ninkovich could end up accounting for more sacks. Defensive backs Alfonzo Dennard and Logan Ryan should intercept more passes. If the Pats’ defense can stay healthy – which is a big “if” – they may be the strongest turnover-inducing team in the league. Even when they were missing the likes of Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, and Aqib Talib, they still managed to force the 13th most turnovers in the NFL with 17 in 2013. With key players are healthy again and their backups having the year of in-game development, the Patriots’ defense could be one of the league’s most elite squads. With forced turnovers from the defense and a turnover-free offense, the Patriots could produce one of the league’s best turnover ratios.
The addition of Revis allows head coach Bill Belichick to draw up complicated schemes to stump opposing quarterbacks and the entire offenses. When the longest-tenured coach in the league gets creative with a roster of top-level talent, like he appears to have heading into the 2014 season, who knows how dangerous this defense can be.
With the recent news of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork requesting to be released, it would be a surprise if the Patriots are done strengthening their unit. His release – if and when it happens – while devastating to locker room leadership, could free up cap space. Defensive back Steven Gregory’s release also left a hole at safety but cleared up money for the team to spend. The Patriots should fill those positions with a healthy dose of veteran signings, draft picks and the development of youngsters Armond Armstead and Duron Harmon.
Patching those positions should be the team’s next priority. If completed correctly, Revis and Mayo could be running the savviest defense in the AFC.