Darrelle Revis is one of the few true cover corners in the NFL. He’s at his best when he’s able to jam receivers at the line and then shadow them on their routes (and basically run their routes for them). What is the benefit of a corner like this? He can lock up the opposing team’s best receiver and the rest of the coverage can be rolled to the opposite side. This leaves more defenders to worry about the remaining receivers, which makes those defenders’ jobs easier. Rex Ryan understood this when he had Revis in his secondary. For some reason, Greg Schiano does not.
Defensive Coordinator Bill Sheridan might be running the Buccaneers defense, but as head coach, it is Schiano’s job to make sure his players are put in the best possible position to have their talents utilized and maximized. Schiano has failed Revis in this respect.
Watching the film, it is simply amazing how often Revis has been forced to play cover-2 or quarters coverage.
In quarters, Revis is forced to play off the line of scrimmage as he’s responsible for the deep outer fourth or “quarter” of the field. Again, his strengths are as a cover corner where he can be physical and disrupt receivers’ routes off the line before mirroring them. In quarters, he’s stuck waiting for the receiver to come to him. Given free releases, these receivers have more time to set him up on their routes, unimpeded. Revis is not quite as strong at reacting to these routes as he is in straight up man-press coverage.
As a cover-2 corner, Revis has a safety playing over top of him. He’ll funnel the outside receiver to his side, passing him off to the safety if he goes vertical, and then hang in the flat. There, as the “hang corner”, most of the time he’s left covering running backs, slot receivers, or tight ends as they run routes into his neighborhood. That is, if they even come near him. Sometimes routes won’t even be run close to Revis, which leaves him covering no one. Effectively, the Buccaneers have made it easy for opposing offenses to take Revis completely out of the game.
So basically, the Buccaneers traded their 13th overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and committed roughly $96 million in order to get Revis, only to have him play with safety help most of the time while covering those “dangerous” routes in the flat or actually covering no one at all. It goes without saying that it’s absolutely nuts to commit a high draft pick and that much money to a player whose talents won’t be utilized. It’s almost akin to acquiring Peyton Manning and then having him run the speed option.
It’s no wonder that this secondary, which is stacked with talent, has provided middle-of-the-pack results. But this is what happens when you force your players to adjust to a system that doesn’t fit their talents instead of implementing a system that caters to their strengths.