It is obvious to say the Jets should be very thankful Darrelle Revis is back. It is particularly true for the opener, though. Antonio Cromartie against Anquan Boldin was something of a scary matchup. Boldin has an extremely physical style of play, and he does a lot of damage after the catch by breaking tackles. Cromartie has a lot of physical ability, but he shies away from physical play. I think Boldin would have been a tougher matchup for him than Randy Moss and Brandon Marshall the next two weeks. Moss and Marshall are much better receivers, but those matchups generally would have been more contests of athleticism, where Cromartie could fare better. This isn't to say those guys lack physicality, but it is not as central to their games as it is for Boldin.
Revis handles every kind of receiver well. He's very good playing a physical style. He's also a very sure tackler. He does not give up many yards after the catch. He should handle Boldin. There might be some question as to whether he is fully in football shape and ready to exchange contact with the Baltimore receiver, but there is every reason to expect the Jets to have him ready to go. He hasn't been sitting on his couch eating potato chips the last month. They have had a few practices to work him back in.
Antonio Cromartie will line up against Derrick Mason, a favorable matchup for the Jets on paper. Mason has lost much of his speed and athleticism. He put up solid numbers last year for Baltimore, but he was the only competent receiver on the roster, forcing Joe Flacco to force feed the ball to him.
The real question now is what the Jets do when the Ravens go to three receiver sets. There are many unknowns. Baltimore last year went three wide on less than one out of every three snaps. Only two teams did so less. There is talk they will lean more on the passing game this year. How much more will they, though, against the best pass defense in the league.It is also unknown how much of a role T.J. Houshmandzadeh will play in the offense. Houshmandzadeh was signed less than a week ago. The Ravens say they will work him into the offense quickly. He sits behind Mason on their depth chart. A very precise route runner, the slot seems like a logical place for him to work.
If this is the case, I'd like to see the Jets put Cromartie on him and leave Kyle Wilson outside on Mason. Wilson is more used to playing outside, and a guy who runs routes like Houshmandzadeh is a tough matchup for a guy in his first game. Cromartie's athleticism could help eliminate some of the advantage T.J. gains by his precision and open space in the slot. Wilson could play the more limited guy in a more comfortable role.