I tried to remain positive despite all the whispers prior to Rex Ryan's announcement today about Darrelle Revis' injury. I grasped at a simple tweet by ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor that said Revis walked to the team bus last night under his own power, without crutches.
However, when word came down at noon today from Ryan that Revis did indeed tear his ACL, all the stages of grief set in. I started in denial and then blew through the anger, bargaining and depression stages before settling in on acceptance.
Revis was gone for the year, and there was nothing we could do about it.
In his press conference, Ryan immediately started talking about how the defense would adjust without Revis. Ryan said the defense might have to become more aggressive without Revis. He cited the 1985 Chicago Bears and the fact that they were able to become legendary with average players in the secondary because they put pressure on the quarterback.
Now to be certain, the Jets haven't even had remote success getting to the quarterback consistently in a few years, so Ryan can't possibly think he can flip a switch now and make that happen.
So just how will the Jets survive?
But looking further into the schedule, things seem to clear up a little.
After the 49ers and Texans, the Jets play the Indianapolis Colts, whose top-two wide receivers are Reggie Wayne and Donnie Avery. Even if Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson do an average job on the aging Wayne and Avery, the latter of whom is coming off a knee injury that cost him his 2011 season, the Jets (hopefully) should be able to beat the Colts at home.
Up next are the Patriots. The Patriots might present the Jets' biggest problem without Revis. Wilson and Cromartie both struggle with shifty receivers, so whoever the Jets put on Wes Welker likely won't have much success.
Matchup problems also extend to Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Lloyd and Julian Edelman, and the first thought here is that this game could get ugly.
After that, though, the Jets play the Miami Dolphins, Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams. The group of receivers they will be facing in those games consists of Golden Tate, Sidney Rice, Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Davone Bess and Brian Hartline.
Admittedly, Bess did give the Jets problems when Revis left the game. But the Jets were losing when Revis left and ended up winning, so Bess wasn't a difference-maker in the win-loss columns.
Bess had the best season out of that group in 2011, catching 51 passes for 537 yards.
Rice and Amendola have had some success in the past, but they shouldn't be players that Cromartie can't handle.
Week 12 brings the Patriots to MetLife Stadium for a Thanksgiving-night tilt, and once again, there seems to be no way the Jets can cover their receivers without Revis.
The following week finally features the type of opponent that Revis was so valuable against: the Arizona Cardinals.
In the past, Revis could have shut down Larry Fitzgerald, taking away one of the biggest receiving threats in the NFL. However, without Revis, Fitzgerald will roam free. Whether the Jets can overcome that or not remains to be seen.
The potential for matchup problems exist against the Chargers, but that game will be played in New Jersey two days before Christmas—not exactly the ideal setting for San Diego.
Trying to go game-by-game through a schedule to predict what will happen is always a futile effort, so in no way is this an attempt to say the Jets will win and lose certain games.
The way Jets seasons go sometimes, they'll end up losing to the Rams then beat the Patriots the next week.
This is just to say that outside of a handful of games, Cromartie and Wilson should be able to handle the receivers put in front of them.
Now, of course, the Jets are going to have to tighten up the rest of the defense, and Ellis Lankster, Isaiah Trufant and Donnie Fletcher are going to have to play better in extended roles. Mark Sanchez is going to have to get on the same page as his receivers, and either Bilal Powell or Shonn Greene is must get this running game going.
If those problems persist, the Revis injury will be a moot point, as they won't be beating many opponents.
Before the Revis injury, the Jets seemed to have the look of a team that would win between seven and nine games this year, depending on which way the breaks went. Even without Revis, they still should fall somewhere in that range.
The Jets already have a head start by winning two of their first three games. If they can find six wins in games against the Rams, Jaguars, Seahawks, Chargers, Cardinals, Colts, Titans, Bills and Dolphins, they will be right around the win total they probably would have had with or without Revis.
Losing Revis is a crushing blow, and this article is not meant to minimize his loss in any way. If the Jets had lost Revis in Week 3 of 2009, when they had to face Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson, Greg Jennings, Randy Moss and Chad Ochocinco, among others, this article wouldn't even be a thought.
However, this isn't 2009, and the Jets seem to have one of the easier schedules in the NFL. Aside from the list of average receivers, the Jets are set to face five quarterbacks with less than two years' experience, plus Ryan Fitzpatrick and whoever the Cardinals have at quarterback that week.
The Jets will certainly struggle at times without Revis. It's also entirely within the realm of possibility that someone like Golden Tate will torch Kyle Wilson all over the field. And who's to say that Amendola won't run wild against Cromartie?
Nobody knows what is going to happen play-to-play in the NFL, let alone months in advance.
But based on the schedule and the receivers and quarterbacks the Jets will face the rest of the way, there won't be many games this year where fans are sitting around saying, "Well, we would have won that game if Revis played."