Theoretically, Jets head coach Todd Bowles may not choose to cover Cooper in a one-on-one scheme. Nonetheless, it couldn't hurt Oakland to challenge one of the best cornerbacks in the league by using film study.
Before delving into Revis’ weaknesses, let’s take a look at the tale of the tape:
|Tale of the Tape - Darrelle Revis vs. Amari Cooper|
|Player||Darrelle Revis||X||Player||Amari Cooper|
|Targeted / Recs Allowed||30 / 14||X||Targeted / Recs||47 / 33|
|Yards Allowed||169||X||Rec Yards||519|
|Catch % Allowed||46.7||X||Catch %||70.2|
|Pro Football Focus|
*Note: One interception returned for a touchdown.
There are impressive numbers on both sides that jump off the screen.
Many analysts talk about fighting for 50/50 balls in the air. Revis isn’t the biggest cornerback, but he uses field and ball awareness to put himself in position to make big plays. When targeted, he allows less than a 50 percent catch rate, which projects as a staggering number considering his average size (5'11", 198 lbs).
Not only can the rookie turn on a second gear after the catch, but he can make defenders miss, which makes him as dangerous as a running back in the open field. These qualities come in handy when lined up against Revis.
Beating Revis in the Slot
There’s no doubt about Revis’ ability to cover wideouts all over the field, but there’s one particular area and attribute that can throw him off balance.
In the first example, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman lines up in the slot across from Revis. Edelman takes the route across the formation and uses a slight nudge and acceleration to gain separation.
As a result, Revis cannot keep pace with the Patriots receiver, who’s lightning-quick in his routes. Tom Brady just needs to deliver an accurate pass, leading his receiver in for the touchdown.
Unfortunately, Edelman dropped the pass, letting Revis off the hook. Here's a real-time view, courtesy of Kevin O'Brien via Twitter:
Beating Revis with Double Moves
Advantages on the football field are subtle. At times, it’s just a motion or quick step that gives a receiver space to make a catch.
Garcon simply juke-steps toward the outside but takes a slant route inside for a touchdown catch. It seems simple, but this play works because Revis doesn’t want to give up a back-corner touchdown. He overcommits to Garcon’s fake step, which opens up the inside.
The Redskins wide receiver takes an easy slant route for a two-yard touchdown.
What do both plays have in common? There’s limited space for Revis to work with, so there’s little margin for error. One hard bite on a double move could create space for a free release, as it did with Garcon.
Second, both Edelman and Garcon used quickness, not necessarily speed, to gain separation from a cornerback with average speed.
Use Cooper’s Agility
During the draft, you hear so much about 40 times—who ran a 4.3 or a 4.4. Straight-line speed doesn’t necessarily translate to speed on the football field. Cooper has both attributes—he ran a 4.42 at the NFL combine, per NFL.com.
The rookie wideout has also made a living running in space behind good blocking. The best example comes from the Raiders' Week 7 victory over the San Diego Chargers:
Quarterback Derek Carr doesn’t have to challenge cornerbacks deep in winner-take-all circumstances. Instead, he can throw a high-percentage pass nearly parallel to the line of scrimmage and allow his receiver to do the heavy lifting.
Oakland's offensive linemen and wide receivers have made a concerted effort to seal blocks on bubble screens. This allows Cooper to turn on the afterburners in stride. It also helps the quarterback reduce the frequency of low-percentage throws on the perimeter, specifically against top-notch cornerbacks.
Cooper Over the Top
Carr has a penchant for throwing to Cooper over the top. In Week 4, the Raiders quarterback threw into a tight window. The rookie wideout came up with the catch in a small space between the defender and the back of the end zone.
There’s a high degree of difficulty in completing this pass. Worst-case scenario, Carr throws the pass where only his receiver can get to it or sails the throw out of bounds.
On foot, the wideout should have a speed advantage over Revis to challenge the deep safety. The threat of going deep could keep the elite cornerback on his heels and susceptible to a short catch and run.
It’s unclear how much Revis will shadow the rookie sensation on Sunday. It wouldn’t hurt to move Cooper around the formation, especially with his ability to play in the slot.
Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave cannot fall into a predictable routine. He must show Revis a variety of looks pre-snap. If Cooper gets jammed in a tight area, it limits the cornerback’s room for a false step. One hesitation could open the field for the end zone.
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