Tampa Bay cornerback Darrelle Revis was the consensus “Best Cornerback in the NFL” for the majority of his five healthy seasons with the New York Jets, before tearing his ACL in the second game last season.
And even though he likely isn’t fully recovered and has moved on to a new address – he was traded to the Buccaneers on April 21 – the thought remains that “Revis Island” is a place receivers go to be harassed, smothered, isolated and severed from an offense.
But New Orleans isn’t beyond a tug or two, to see if still, the man is steel.
So when the Saints play the Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., the offense won’t exactly tuck tail and run from the challenge Revis presents. The Saints, who own the league’s most prolific offense since 2006 (leading the NFL in yards per game in 2006, ’08, ’09 and ’11), will exercise prudence, but will accept the challenge.
“Within a gameplan you have certain matchups that you’re trying to exploit, certain coverages or certain looks that you’re trying to get,” said Brees, who completed 26 of 35 passes for 357 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception, in the season opener.
“I would say there are times where, hey, maybe there’s a corner and you just know, he defends this certain route or this certain concept or this play very, very well. And so, all things equal, let’s go away from him. And so you definitely say there’s a Revis rule, as it pertains to some of those things – you want to avoid giving him those opportunities as much as you can.
“But then again, we’re going to execute our offense and there’s going to be times where we’re going at his side or going at him, and that is what it is. We’re not going to be careless about it.”
In truth, the Saints won’t be careless about any facet of Tampa Bay’s defense.
In a season-opening loss to the New York Jets, Tampa Bay’s defense allowed just 304 yards (90 rushing, on 29 carries) and produced five sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. If not for the fact that the Jets won 18-17 on a game-winning field goal, Tampa Bay’s defense might have been as acclaimed in victory as New Orleans’ was for its effort in a 23-17 win over Atlanta.
But Revis, who was acquired in exchange for the No. 13 overall pick this year and a conditional pick next year, was the marquee addition. He reportedly signed a six-year, $96 million contract with the Bucs – with no guaranteed money – to become the highest-paid defensive back in league history.
“In order to be the best, you have to compete against the best and obviously, he’s been one of the best in the league,” Saints receiver
The fact that Revis has won his share, though, will only embolden the Buccaneers defense.
“A confidence, knowing that you have that type of a player out there that you can rely on for one side of the field to match up against a team’s best guy,” Brees said of Revis’ impact. “You’ve seen him do that at times.
“Seems like (against the Jets), he was moving around quite a bit. At times he was off the field so I’m sure that they were just getting him back into it. I’m sure they have a plan for him depending on who they’re playing, the type of offense, the type of receivers.
“So for us it’s really, we know he’s going to be out there, not sure exactly where, just be aware of where he is at all times and understand the type of playmaker that he is.”
Understand when to tug, and how forcefully, and how often.