The New York Jets (3-3) ascended quickly during the first three weeks of the 2009 season, only to course directly into the most turbulent of skies.
With three disappointing losses to contrast against three impressive wins, Gang Green is searching for a break of light in the Bay Area's treacherous black hole when they face the Oakland Raiders (2-4).
Yet, through the Jets' darkest moments remains one illuminated constant. Darrelle Revis, a third-year cornerback out of Pittsburgh, has started every game since being drafted 14th overall in 2007. The flashes of greatness were on display from the onset.
Revis arrived late to training camp after lengthy contract negotiations and stepped in as the team's No. 1 cornerback. It was a role he would never relinquish—and a decision no one would ever second-guess, either.
He followed a three-interception rookie campaign with a five-interception, one-sack season for Pro Bowl honors in 2008. And he's continuing his gradual climb, vying for consideration as the league's best cornerback on a weekly basis.
Revis has kept every team's primary receiver in his sights, refusing to let some of the NFL's most dominant—the Texans' Andre Johnson, Patriots' Randy Moss, and Saints' Marques Colston—take over games as they normally do.
And so, on an oddly warm October night, Revis sat backstage at Comix in New York's Meatpacking District, prepared for a night of sports-themed satire to benefit the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation. The 24-year-old cornerback looked as comfortable as can be after a rushed rehearsal, an hour away from making his stage-acting debut with the 12 Angry Mascots.
Revis took a moment to discuss his methods on the field, two-year-old grudges against receivers who scored on him, and life for the Jets' defense after Kris Jenkins' season-ending knee injury.
Angel Navedo: Is it safe to say that tonight is your acting debut?
Darrelle Revis: Yeah (smirks). I don't know. It might be. [There is] going to be comedy with it, though. I just want to have fun with it. I joke a lot, so this is something that's going to open me up and let people see Darrelle Revis off the field.
AN: Any plans to do more work in front of the camera down the line?
DR: (thinks for a moment) Eh, if it presents itself, [then] I'll look more into it. But right now, I'm just doing this for a good cause—for Crohn's and Colitis disease research. I'm here to have fun in the city tonight. [The 12 Angry Mascots] asked me to do it, and I just want to enjoy it.
AN: Now, most cornerbacks consider themselves either ball-hawks or physical guys, but you do both well. Do you prefer a certain style?
DR: It can be both ways. I try to think of myself as an all-around corner. I like to cover, but I like to come up and tackle as well. In certain situations, I might be a finesse type of corner on receivers or with the quarterback.
And sometimes I might just wanna get in your face and tear it off (laughs).
AN: When you watch film, do you still identify problem areas in your game?
DR: It depends. We all make mistakes, week in and week out. The one thing I try to always preach on to myself is being consistent in my play, even at practice. I go back and look at the practice film and see if I made a step the wrong way, or did something else. I try and critique myself.
Usually, nine times out of 10, I know as soon as I mess up. If it's in a game or if it's in practice, I automatically know. It's something you have to know and follow to keep your game consistent against some of the top receivers in the league.
AN: Do you feel like your mistakes are things you mostly do to yourself, or were you caught off guard?
DR: It's moreso something I did to myself. Don't get me wrong, these top receivers get paid a lot of money, too. I have to have my A-plus game on these guys. You can't try to relax or give in.
Every now and then, there might be a false step here and there, but you can recover and do other things. It depends on how athletic you are. But if you know yourself, you can avoid getting caught in bad situations.
AN: Any situations where guys really try and test you?
You can't show that you're weak out there.
AN: I remember you last played Owens in your rookie year. And if I'm not mistaken, he's one of two guys who did catch a touchdown on you.
DR: Yes (laughs).
AN: But you bounced back and kept him covered this time around. What was it like getting another chance at him?
DR: That actually stuck with me for two years (laughs). I really took it to heart, and I always wanted to get a chance to play him again—to compete with him and show him that it ain't gonna happen this time.
I was so excited when he signed with the Bills, because now I get to see him twice a year. I know he's a great player, so I have to match every step with what he does. That's what I tried to do [on Sunday] to get him back, and I actually did. He caught three balls for 13 yards.
AN: But what about the other guy who scored on you in 2007?
DR: Braylon Edwards (laughs). And now he's my teammate, but I can't do nothing to him.
AN: Maybe see him in practice?
DR: Not during the season (laughs). We don't want to hurt the star players. Maybe in training camp, though. It might get a little bit heated in the offseason.
AN: Speaking of injuries, how is the defense adjusting to the loss of Kris Jenkins?How does losing him change things for the secondary?
DR: We have to focus on what we do. Our first job is to not let any balls go over our heads. Through the six games we've had, we've been doing fairly well, but we have to keep focus on that. But now it comes to a point where we might have to come up and tackle more.
Kris Jenkins is a big loss. He's a four-time Pro Bowler and everything; big body at 6'4", 380 pounds. He takes up two guys sometimes.
AN: He's listed at 360. Are you saying he's actually 380?
DR: I don't know. I just know he's a big cat (laughs). But we still believe in the guys who are going to step in for him. They wouldn't be in the NFL if they couldn't.
[Injuries are] just tough, man. We're even kind of short at the receiver position. [Losing] Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith hurts. We want to get them back, but they have to come back healthy.
AN: And this Sunday you're going to Oakland to face a Raiders team that looks to be improving. How's coach Rex Ryan preparing you to come back from the Buffalo loss?
DR: Basically, don't take [the Raiders] lightly. They beat a good Philadelphia Eagles team, [and] they beat us last year in Oakland. [Coach Ryan] told us this is a trap game. This is a situation where we have to go out there and prove not just to them, but to the NFL that we're still a top contending team in this league.
AN: Thanks a lot, Darrelle. Good luck this week and have a great show.
DR: You're welcome, man.
Click here for excerpts of Darrelle Revis' performance with the 12 Angry Mascots, courtesy of the New Jersey Star-Ledger.