4 Ways Darrelle Revis' Injury Impacts New York Jets' Defense
Darrelle Revis has been the best defensive player in the NFL for the last several seasons. His uncanny ability to shut down every team's top receiver by himself allowed the Jets defense to run outlandish blitz packages that forced opponents to rely on lesser offensive weapons throughout games.
The Jets have been a perennial top-tier defense over the last several years. However, with Darrelle Revis out for the season with a torn ACL, Rex Ryan and Co. must now redefine their defensive philosophy.
The absence of Revis is going to plague the Jets' secondary for the duration of this season. It's impossible to replace a guy with his talent level and freakish athleticism. However, there is enough talent on this defense for the team to experience a measure of success in 2012.
The Jets are at a crossroads heading into Week 5 against the Houston Texans. Gang Green is currently sitting at 2-2, and has showed flashes of brilliance, along with mind-numbingly poor performances throughout 2012. Let's take a look at four ways Revis's absence will affect the Jets, and how the team must adjust to the situation.
No More Revis Island
Revis's absence is no longer going to allow the Jets to possess one of the more dynamic defenses in the NFL. Not only will the Jets have to give more help to both sides of the field, but the team will not be able to use creative blitzing packages to fool opposing quarterbacks. In short, the effects of "Revis Island" are no more.
Take a look at the above video of LaRon Landry's pick six from Week 3 of this season. The Jets line up with four down linemen, plus Calvin Pace showing blitz on the line of scrimmage.
When the ball snaps, Bart Scott blitzes and Pace drops into coverage, as does Garrett McIntyre. However, the Jets successfully fooled Ryan Tannehill into believing they were bringing a six man blitz while playing man coverage, when in reality it was a cover two zone and a four-man rush with the corners in press coverage on the outside.
Tannehill rolled out right in anticipation of pressure that never really came, and limited his throwing options to the right side of the field. He was forced into making a bad throw to tight end Anthony Fasano on a drag route, and the route was jumped by safety LaRon Landry, who was roaming the left quarter of the field.
Without Darrelle Revis, the dynamics of this play are completely different. Gang Green left their star corner on an island, giving him absolutely no safety help over the top. Landry and Yeremiah Bell were covering the left side of the field, leaving Revis on his own in the event of a deep pass to the right.
The Jets will now be forced to split the entire field with their safety help, as opposed to just half of it. This will not allow them to be as creative with their blitzes, and will inhibit Landry and Bell from being as effective as they have been in past weeks.
Reliance on Four-Man Pass Rush
The Jets no longer possess one of the leagues most talented secondaries. Although Antonio Cromartie is a formidable No. 2 cornerback, he is not going to shut down many teams' best option at receiver. With that, Kyle Wilson is unproven and has struggled at times throughout his career.
In the absence of Revis, Gang Green will need to give their corners help often against some of the leagues high-octane, pass-heavy offenses (i.e. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots). This involves dropping linebackers into coverage and limiting safety blitzes.
The Jets will have to rely on a four man pass rush to get to the quarterback to avoid getting picked apart in the secondary. Although a timely blitz will still be effective, we will not see the Jets ranked in the top-three in blitz percentages this season like they have been in two of the last three years.
The Jets will need to run more variations of zone blitzes, similar to the video we watched on the previous slide. If they can create the illusion of pressure, while still leaving six or preferably seven players in coverage, the secondary has the ability to hold up against good football teams.
Kyle Wilson, Antonio Cromartie Will Be Tested on the Perimeter
This one is the most obvious, yet the most important, aspect of Revis's absence. With No. 24 out of the lineup, teams are going to throw at Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson early and often throughout games. With that, opponents are going to have a greater degree of success throwing to the outside, as opposed to targeting seam routes over the middle of the field.
The Jets are not going to be able to replace Darrelle Revis. No matter how you look at it, their defense is not going to hold up as well without the player they built their scheme around.
That said, the team is going to rely upon Cromartie, Wilson and maybe even Joe McKnight to step up their play. None of these three are going to shut down number one receivers on a weekly basis, but all of them have significant room for improvement.
Cromartie has all the athleticism in the world, but he routinely played technically flawed football in terms of his footwork, use of his hands and mental blunders. Wilson has been especially prone to pass interference calls throughout his career and has trouble matching up with physical wideouts.
Lastly, McKnight is a converted running back that has athleticism, but little to no experience playing in an NFL defensive backfield. He should only get better with time.
The Jets need these guys to step up if their defense is to endure through the loss of their best player. It's a simple, clear-cut notion that is imperative to the success of Gang Green's 2012 campaign.
Since the inception of the Rex Ryan era, the Jets are notoriously one of the most talked about teams in the NFL. With the addition of Tim Tebow in the offseason, the team has been caught in a media whirlwind of constant coverage, relentless controversy and inconsistent on-field performances.
Darrelle Revis' injury does nothing to improve any of these situations. In fact, it only adds to the immense amount of pressure on this team to live up to expectations they to failed fulfill a year ago.
If the Jets fall flat on their face this season, there will most likely be wholesale personnel changes throughout the organization, namely at head coach and quarterback. The fans know this, the media knows it and worst of all, the players know it.
The absence of Darrelle Revis has put more pressure on a team that seems to already be crumbling under the bright spotlight that is New York City. We saw the team flop this past Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, and there may be more similar performances in the near future if this team does not get its act together quickly.