The New York Jets best player might be veteran cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is a likely Hall of Famer when he reaches the end of the line. Aidan Curran explores whether his matchup with DeAndre Hopkins is a sign of impending decline of Revis Island or just one bad game.
Darrelle Revis earned a monster five-year, $70 million deal ‒ with a whopping $39 million guaranteed ‒ with the Jets as free agent. Revis Island has performed as advertised thus far, and is still one of the top defensive backs in the league, totaling three interceptions and three recovered fumbles.
In Week 11, Revis went up against Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who has quickly risen to elite status ‒ but Revis has shut down wide receivers like Hopkins many times before. However, it was evident that Hopkins had the upper hand over Revis the whole game when looking at the tape. The veteran corner was torched throughout l by the young receiver, who caught five passes for 118 yards and two long touchdowns, one with Revis in man coverage on him.
The Jets show Cover 3, with Revis in man coverage and using outside leverage. Hopkins gets a free release from the line and runs directly at Revis while angling his route slightly to sideline, as if to run a corner route. When the receiver pulls even with the corner, Hopkins branches the route outward, giving a stutter step to sell the quick hitch:
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Watch Revis bite on this move as Hopkins accelerates past him. With Revis at least two steps behind Hopkins, quarterback T.J. Yates has a perfect opportunity for what would be a surefire touchdown, with no other Jets defender in the area code. But, Yates can’t make the play, and Revis gets away with a mistake. Usually adept at defending the double move, the veteran does not keep pace on Hopkins’ stutter step, and then cannot recover in time to catch up.
The Jets show a Cover 2 look here, with the outside cornerbacks playing up on the line of scrimmage in press-man technique. At the snap, the strong safety drops as the Jets shift into a Cover 1 look. Revis is again one on one with Hopkins to the left side of the Houston formation:
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Hopkins runs a deep comeback here, stemming the route at the 35-yard line, turning his outside shoulder, and working back to the ball. He does a good job of using his body, shielding Revis from being able to make a play on the ball. Yates fires a tight spiral into a small window for the completion
On this play, Hopkins runs another comeback on Revis. The Jets are playing a hybrid zone-man coverage here, with Revis the only defender matched up in man coverage. The corner plays Hopkins with inside leverage, which seems strange considering he has a safety towards the middle of the field to help him:
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This plays right into Hopkins’s hands, who takes a sharp cut upfield and toward the sideline, gaining separation from Revis. Yates winds up, and Revis turns to look for the ball – and Hopkins turns on the afterburners. This allows Yates to loft the ball, up over Revis’ head, and into Hopkins’s hands for the 18-yard gain. This is a mistake Revis almost never made in previous seasons.
The final nail in the coffin for Revis versus Hopkins came on this 60-yard touchdown catch, in which he again ran right past the veteran All-Pro. New York had eight men in the box, with the Texans showing a run look in 22 personnel. Hopkins is running a go route off play action against Revis Island:
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Hopkins beats Revis’s jam at the line of scrimmage and bursts by him. The Jets corner is trailing the entire time and, as the route develops, Hopkins just keeps gaining ground. Yates launches the ball, hitting the receiver in stride, and all Revis can do is dive at Hopkins dwindling ankles.
Revis suffered a concussion in the loss to Houston and is unlikely to play this weekend, but he hadn’t been on the injury report since Week 4, suggesting he is as healthy as any veteran at this stage of the season. It will be interesting to see whether this game was an anomaly for Revis, or a sign of things to come. In an aggressive defense like that of Todd Bowles’s defense ‒ where the cornerbacks need to be able to win matchups in press-man coverage ‒ Revis Island needs to be what the Jets paid for. If he continues to show small signs of decline, that $39 million guaranteed is going to become onerous for the team’s ability to stay competitive in the future.
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Aidan Curran has written about whether Malcolm Butler is for real, the Patriots versatile defensive line and options at offensive tackle, as well as Rex Ryan’s blitzing ways.
All video and images courtesy NFL Game Pass.