Nnamdi Asomugha vs. Darrelle Revis: Who Is Really on an Island?

Carl CockerhamSenior Analyst IMay 24, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 28:  Nnamdi Asomugha #21 of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the game against the San Diego Chargers on September 28, 2008 at Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

With the big year Darrelle Revis had in 2009, it looks like All-World cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha has a new rival. Revis killed it this past season with 6 INTs and 31 pass deflections. He has been given credit for shutting down the likes of Terell Owens, Chad Ochocinco, Andre Johnson, and Steve Smith in 2009. The brash corner is a great fit for the New York media as being in New York and playing on the league's best defensive unit has brought the name "Revis Island" to the fore. 

Meanwhile, Asomugha and everything that comes with him compares modestly to that of Revis. Nnamdi is a soft spoken man that plays in Oakland. The defensive team he plays on is the 31st ranked defense compared to the first ranked Rex Ryan created defense. Asomugha also comes up short on the statistical end of things. He had just one INT and three passes deflected.

With all of the above on Revis' side, it is no wonder that he was the one the media deemed as the one on the "Island". But who is the one with the real "Island"? Who is the better cover corner? While Revis has every statistical edge, there is one that tips the scale in Asomugha's favor. To Revis' 106 times, Asomugha had been thrown at only 28 times during his 2009 campaign. That is a definition of a shut-down corner! Remember, Deon Sanders never led the leage in INTs.

That means when the opposing o-coordinator looks at film, they see that the man Asomugha is assigned to cover is never open so they game plan around him. They look at film on Revis and they see a guy that is vulnerable but they never seem to be able to get anything done on him on gameday. Why is that?

Rex Ryan puts a short clock in every opposing QB's head, he will live and die with the blitz just as his father Buddy did. Revis has benefited immensely from the blitz happy system of Rex Ryan. He doesn't have to cover for that long and many a wounded duck comes out of QBs hands as they get hit while throwing. Asomugha covers his man for a much longer period of time because the Raiders don't blitz. On top of that, Revis can gamble and get picks because he has help over the top. He doesn't even play man coverage all the time while Asomugha is in man coverage 99.9 percent of the time.

If you look through the eye in the sky, it won't lie. Revis' supposed shut-downs of Ochocinco, Smith, Owens, and Johnson were not as advertised. That is why Ochocinco refused to change his name back to Johnson when he couldn't get anything done on Revis, losing his bet. Nothing shuts a receiver down like a bad throw by a QB. The eye in the sky saw all of these men get behind Revis only to see the ball get thrown short and intercepted. Smith especially blew past him without a problem before Jake Delhome threw the ball short.

Don't get me wrong, Revis is a great young corner but the hype the surrounds him overrates him. While Revis had himself one great year, Asomugha has had a different rival every year for cornerback supremacy. So who is the one on the Island? Literally speaking, Revis is the one on the island. That's what New York is. In a football sense it's Asomugha. He hardly ever gets help over the top, he is always in man coverage, and he doesn't have the tsunami headed toward the QB that Revis does.

That is real isolation. That is a real Island. An Island that no one likes to visit.