Darrelle Revis: Breaking Down the Tape on the New York Jets Star Cornerback

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Darrelle Revis: Breaking Down the Tape on the New York Jets Star Cornerback
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

With the NFL's release of the All-22 game tape in this year's Game Pass package, the limitations of broadcast tape have been removed. With the new camera angles, it is now possible for anyone to accurately assess the play of players in the secondary on most plays.

One of the most intriguing prospects to put under this fancy new microscope is the New York Jets All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis.

I didn't go on any holidays this summer, instead, I spent the past week or so on Revis Island, investigating whether it truly was an Island or just another well-disguised peninsula. After watching every single snap from Revis' 2011 season, I quickly found the answer.

Ranking Individual Matchups:
Ranked below are the primary receivers who Revis covered in 2011 and their success rates at beating him.

No. Full Name Successful Snaps/Coverage Snaps Rating
1. Dwayne Bowe 10/19 52.6%
2. Stevie Johnson 11/27 + 17/37 = 28/64 43.8%
3. Brandon Marshall
7/23 + 7/22 = 14/45
31.1%
4. DeSean Jackson 3/10
30%
5. Wes Welker 6/18 + 3/16 = 9/34 26.5%
6. Dez Bryant 6/25
24%
7. Hakeem Nicks 3/13 23%
8. Anquan Boldin 2/11 18%
9. Vincent Jackson
4/24
16.7%
10. Jabarr Gaffney 2/14 14.3%
11. Jarett Dillard
1/13
7.7%
12. Darrius Heyward-Bey 0/16 0%

*Denver Broncos did not have a receiver with enough snaps in coverage to qualify.

 

Explanation of Process:

Qualifying plays—
This analysis is not of Revis in zone coverage or his ability to play the run. The only plays that are taken into consideration are clear man coverage plays. Plays with safety/linebacker help are included.

Furthermore, if receivers are not afforded enough time to get into their route, i.e. if the ball is thrown on a quick screen, that play is also not considered. Each play must have Revis in clear man coverage covering a receiver running a route. 

Failed Coverage—
The ball does not have to be thrown in Revis' direction for the coverage to fail. This is NOT an analysis of how many completions Revis allowed, that can be found elsewhere, this is an analysis of how good Revis' coverage was on any given play.

If Revis is not in position to make a play on a relatively accurately thrown football to his assignment, then, the play is filed under this category. Here's an example of a failed coverage as Miles Austin has created separation between him and Revis while running a crossing route:

Shut Down—
Shut Down refers to the plays when Revis is in such good coverage that any pass sent his way would have no chance of making the receiver and almost certainly be an interception. These plays generally happen at the goal line or whenever Revis is able to lock into a receiver's chest.

Shut Down plays also occur when the receiver's space is closed out to the point that it's impossible for him to catch the ball with two feet in bounds. This often happens when Revis appears to anticipate the route. 

In Position—
On plays where Revis is in position, it means that he's in position to make a play on the ball if it comes his direction. This is generally within arm's length. 

Week-to-Week Results and Analysis:

Week 1: vs. the Dallas Cowboys
Total qualifying plays: 31
Failed coverages: 10
Shutdowns: 6
In Position: 15

Early on Revis wasn't trailing any receiver in particular. Once Dez Bryant made a few plays against other Jets players, Revis was moved onto him. Bryant initially had his way against Revis, losing him four times on their first eight snaps against each other. Revis appeared to be awoken after Bryant got free further down the field on multiple occasions. He was in perfect coverage for nine plays in a row against Bryant before he got another sniff of space.

Revis only allowed him two opportunities on their final eight plays against each other. During that time Revis had an interception and shut him down completely on two other plays. Bryant was notably hampered by injury in the second half.

Notably, Revis was matched up with Kevin Ogletree in coverage twice. Ogletree beat him with relative ease on both occasions with his route running. Ogletree sold the quick out route to Revis before breaking free inside. Revis gave up roughly 15 yards and one first down to the lesser known receiver. Miles Austin broke free of Revis' coverage on two of four snaps. He used the same route that Ogletree did to beat him on the first occasion.

Week 2: vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars
Total qualifying plays: 22
Failed coverages: 3
Shutdowns: 18
In Position: 1

The Jaguars wide receivers, and passing game as a whole, were simply outclassed in this game. Revis knew what the receivers were going to do before they did it on almost every play. One of his three failed coverages game when he slipped, another when Mike Thomas simply ran away from him and the other was the very first play in coverage when Jarett Dillard ran one excellent curl route inside.

The Jaguars ran a lot of outside comebacks on Revis. Not one worked, except when Revis slipped, but they continued to run them.

Week 3: vs. the Oakland Raiders
Total qualifying plays: 30
Failed coverages: 2
Shutdowns: 7
In Position: 21

The Raiders game plan to attack Revis was easy to see. They predominantly ran three routes: a comeback, go route and fake comeback into go route. Obviously, they were trying to use the speed advantage of Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford to try and beat Revis deep. However, the problem was that none of the receivers ran crisp enough routes to ever catch the cornerback out.

A lack of diversity in route patterns and the inability of the receivers meant Revis only gave up catching opportunities twice, both to Denarius Moore. Moore once ran a successful comeback route, while benefiting from blown coverage on the other occasion.

Week 4: vs. the Baltimore Ravens
Total qualifying plays: 23
Failed coverages: 3
Shutdowns: 2
In Position: 18

In a prime-time setting, Revis was clued in from the start. His first nine matchups gave the receiver no room before Boldin had to fight him for position on a curl route. Boldin got free again on a quick out when Revis was late to react, while Tandon Doss streaking across the field was the only other time Flacco could have thrown his way.

Boldin didn't have enough speed to consistently separate from Revis, while Torrey Smith wasn't good enough in running routes.

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Welker's matchup with Revis was definitely more interesting the second time around.

Week 5: vs. the New England Patriots
Total qualifying plays: 31
Failed coverages: 9
Shutdowns: 3
In Position: 19

Revis spent a lot of time covering Welker but wasn't exclusively trailing the receiver. Both Deion Branch and Welker had some success against Revis, but he was excellent on the day. Welker drew an illegal contact penalty on Revis.

Week 6: vs. the Miami Dolphins
Total qualifying plays: 29
Failed coverages: 8
Shutdowns: 1
In Position: 20

It wasn't his best game, but Marshall and Brian Heartline both threw a multitude of routes his direction which he aggressively attacked. Despite his size advantage, most of Marshall's success was a product of his excellent route running. Even when Revis had Marshall covered, he had to work a lot harder to do it than with most receivers.

Week 7: vs. the San Diego Chargers
Total qualifying plays: 27
Failed coverages: 8
Shutdowns: 0
In Position: 19

Jackson often appeared as if he knew the ball wasn't coming his way from the moment the ball was snapped. Rarely did he run hard and Revis actually struggled more when covering Floyd. Floyd used his speed well to create separation and got free twice in three matchups.

On one of the few plays when Jackson attacked the play at full throttle, he managed to beat the cornerback deep, but Rivers missed him with the throw. Jackson showed that he had the ability to beat Revis in multiple ways—he did so on a double move, by outmuscling him, his route running and simply with his pace deep.

Week 8 Bye

Week 9: vs. the Buffalo Bills
Total qualifying plays: 28
Failed coverages: 12
Shutdowns: 0
In Position: 16

It's obvious that the New York Jets have a huge amount of respect for Stevie Johnson, at least in comparison to his teammates. Revis trailed Johnson for all but one of his snaps. Among all the fanfare about his physical size and quirky attitude, Johnson's route running is outstanding. He repeatedly lost Revis with crisp turns and sharp pivots.

Teams often tried to run comeback routes on Revis throughout the season, nobody did it as well as Johnson. He beat him twice early on with comebacks before catching a 52-yard pass down the sideline.

Brodney Pool had to cover for Revis who couldn't make the tackle. Johnson then used his deep threat to throw Revis off underneath by faking a sideline route before coming free to the inside (the same route Kevin Ogletree and Miles Austin used on him early in the season).

Many receivers throughout the season attempted to run this route on Revis. The better route-runners managed it. The first image (top left) shows Revis lined up over Johnson.

Johnson is the only WR on the right side with Revis in single coverage across from him. As the image shows, they are just outside the hash marks. The second image (top right) shows Johnson's first step. Johnson aggressively attacks Revis' outside shoulder at the snap.

The third image (bottom left) shows Revis' aggressive approach. His hips have turned, and he's expecting to run down the sideline with Johnson. Keep in mind, Johnson had just beat him that way for a 52-yard gain.

Revis plays this route so aggressively that often receivers end up out of bounds with zero chance of catching the football. In this instance, however, as you can see in the image, Johnson has already planted his foot and shifted his weight to run inside. The fourth image (bottom right) shows Johnson already in flight moving inside, while Revis has just planted his foot and shifted his weight to start pursuit.

Johnson ran the same route to great success in the second game also.

Revis' frustration resulted in a holding penalty. His concentration was likely a little off as Namaan Roosevelt easily beat him on the next play. Johnson came back to catch the ball over Revis down the sideline, before he was wide open on a curl route on the next play.

Week 10: vs. the New England Patriots
Total qualifying plays: 30
Failed coverages: 14
Shutdowns: 2
In Position: 14

This game was the perfect example of why the Patriots and Wes Welker need each other. Revis and Welker spent a lot of time together. The Patriots moved Welker around a lot causing him to be lost behind bodies and blocked by other receivers at times. Revis trailed him all over the field but lost him in the crowd more than once.

Unlike any other game on the year, the Patriots were able to force Revis to cover for very long periods. Welker was routinely making two double moves, and on at least one play, made three adjustments to lose Revis. All of that combined with the Patriots' hurried up offense also saw Revis caught out of position at the snap on multiple occasions.

Week 11: vs. the Denver Broncos
Total qualifying plays: 14
Failed coverages: 6
Shutdowns: 1
In Position: 7

The Broncos stacked receivers often, and sometimes, used multiple receivers as blockers in quick screen plays. Revis played different coverage in this game to any other as the Jets were happy to sit off receivers and force Tebow to throw short passes. The Jets whole game plan was different to their typical approach as they played a huge amount of zone coverage.

Week 12: vs. the Buffalo Bills
Total qualifying plays: 39
Failed coverages: 18
Shutdowns: 0
In Position: 21

Johnson's route running was spectacular again. He repeatedly took advantage of Revis' aggressive style to create space inside. Revis is very aggressive with most receivers and will try very hard to push receivers to the sideline.

Bigger, more agile receivers can take advantage of this with outside fakes before aggressively attacking in field.

Week 13: vs. the Washington Redskins
Total qualifying plays: 31
Failed coverages: 6
Shutdowns: 2
In Position: 23

The Redskins ran a lot of tight formations with bunched receivers to force Revis deep or make the Jets defense play zone. For that reason, and because of the quality of route-runners on the Redskins' roster, the Jets played a significant amount of zone and zone mixed with man coverages.

Revis uses any help he receives very well by playing the correct technique to reroute receivers toward his teammates. As such, the Redskins' receivers only managed six open plays, three of which were comebacks, one was a matchup with Fred Davis, on one, Revis bought play-action, and on the other, Gaffney was lost in a crowd.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Week 14: vs. the Kansas City Chiefs
Total qualifying plays: 22
Failed coverages: 10
Shutdowns: 1
In Position: 11

Against 95 percent of the receivers in the NFL, Revis will be very aggressive with receivers to the point that they rarely are out of elbow's reach. With Dwayne Bowe, however, Revis had to change his approach. Bowe is too big, fast and agile for Revis to stick beside consistently.

Bowe consistently took advantage of Revis' off coverage but also lost him on multiple comeback routes. With a better quarterback than Tyler Palko on the day, Bowe could have really exposed Revis.

Week 15: vs. the Philadelphia Eagles
Total qualifying plays: 22
Failed coverages: 7
Shutdowns: 1
In Position: 14

Outside of two early plays when Revis pressed DeSean Jackson and was spurned by his pace, he had an easy outing, easily handling Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, Riley Cooper and Jackson.

Week 16: vs. the New York Giants
Total qualifying plays: 25
Failed coverages: 5
Shutdowns: 1
In Position: 19

Despite a massive day from Victor Cruz, including a 99-yard touchdown reception, Revis spent the day covering Ramses Barden and Hakeem Nicks for the most part. He struggled at times with the physicality of both Barden and Nicks but had no real issues sticking with his assignments.

Week 17: vs. the Miami Dolphins
Total qualifying plays: 28
Failed coverages: 8
Shutdowns: 1
In Position: 19

On a day when he mostly trailed Brandon Marshall, Revis got a stern test. Marshall repeatedly turned Revis while running his routes, but through a combination of his intelligence and phenomenal agility, Revis was able to stay in position more often than not.

Marshall got free and over the middle multiple times and beat Revis deep once. The complexity of his routes and the accuracy with which he ran them gave Revis some significant trouble.

Against average receivers, Revis often looks like he's strolling. Marshall may not have had a huge amount of success against him, but Revis appeared to be straining to stick with him.

 

2011 NFL Season Total:
Total qualifying plays: 332
Failed coverages: 130
Shutdowns: 46
In Position: 156
Revis' success rate for the season: 60.2%

In a league dominated by quarterbacks, Darrelle Revis' dominance at the cornerback position is as rare and impressive as he is aggressive and intelligent on the field. In case you haven't garnered from everything written above, that is a massive statement. Revis may not shut down receivers to the point that they are redundant, but he basically does.

How Revis preys on lesser receivers and competes with the elite receivers in today's game is fascinating to watch. With younger receivers who rely on physical talent over technical expertise, Revis can read what they are going to do before they even do it. With veterans of the game who can gain an inch or two on him, he has understated physical abilities that allow him to react in an instant.

Darrelle Revis deserves the tag of Shutdown Corner. There's no question that he lives up to his reputation.

 

Cian Fahey writes for the Guardian, Irishcentral and FFBLife. You can follow him on Twitter @Cianaf

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