#RL Rex Ryan says Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, Bryan Thomas will not play in Jets' game @ PIT on Sunday.— New York Jets (@nyjets) September 14, 2012
The Jets can overcome it, but the pass rush will be vital. I wrote earlier today that the pass rush needs to get going with a strong rush up the middle accompanied by disciplined containment on the edges.
The Jets may be a little less willing to send their defensive backs on blitzes than they would be with Revis in the lineup, so it will be up to the front four to get the job done.
Revis' absence also thrusts cornerback Kyle Wilson into the spotlight. A first-round pick for the Jets in 2010, Wilson has spent most of his time in the slot since entering the league. While that has something to do with the Jets' top-end duo of Revis and Antonio Cromartie, Wilson has been the target of scrutiny.
Not surprisingly, Rex has already come out and said, "We have a lot of confidence in Kyle Wilson," according to NFL.com, while adding, "We've always said...the guys who step up and replace a guy have to maintain that level, or even a little better. In this case, we'll take a little less."
Wilson's been in this spot before and failed, but he's not getting down on himself. He says his head is in a better place now that he knows the system and knows what to expect. Per the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger:
Two years ago I was just trying to learn as much as I could. Now I understand what to do and what's coming at me. I've been in this system so I know everything that's going on as far as our defense and you know, reading routes.
Wilson has practiced primarily in the slot, according to the Star-Ledger, but also lines up in Revis and Cromartie's spots from time to time. He says it helps him learn all the positions and helps keep him prepared for instances like this:
I would say I'm a lot smarter, I use my experience to my advantage, and obviously I just want to get better at my technique playing at multiple positions in this defense. I just want to elevate my game.
He'll have to really elevate his game against the Steelers, whose talented fleet of receivers includes Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown and, of course, Mike Wallace.
Wilson, however, isn't the only one feeling the ripple effect of Revis' absence. The Jets' defensive depth chart lists cornerbacks Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant as the fourth and fifth cornerbacks respectively, but they will play the role of third and fourth cornerbacks this week.
Even if the Steelers don't attack Kyle Wilson—and they should, if only to gauge where he is relative to Revis—they could have success against Lankster and Trufant.
Neither has played extensively at cornerback, but each gave up a touchdown pass during the Bills' late-game surge.
Luckily for the Jets, they're getting back safety Eric Smith. He isn't exactly a stalwart in coverage, and his role may not even be that big with safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell taking every snap at safety last week, but the Jets could certainly use that veteran presence if things get tough. Smith also knows the defense better than anyone in the secondary besides Revis.
Losing Revis any week would be difficult to overcome. Against the Steelers' talented pass-catchers, with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger throwing the ball? Unless the pass rush brings its A-game, it could be a long day for the Jets secondary.
Hope is not lost for this game, as the potential absences of Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu could level the playing field, but if there's one player the Jets couldn't afford to be without, it was (and is) Revis.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!