Whenever an opponent has two talented receivers, the debate over which should face Darrelle Revis and which should face Antonio Cromartie emerges. The Pittsburgh Steelers have Mike Wallace and Hines Ward. Let's talk about the matchups.
I expect the Jets will show a variety of coverages just as they did last week. In some ways, it appears putting Cromartie on Wallace makes sense. Wallace is the kind of downfield speed guy Cro has his best success against. Ward is a physical underneath threat that gives him problems. Revis can handle any kind of receiver so maximizing Cromartie's ability might be the best move.
I am not so sure, however. As we discussed last night, the Jets have found a great deal of success playing a bend but don't break style in the Playoffs. Wallace is a vastly superior big play threat. He averages over 8 yards more per reception than Ward. He led the league in receptions over 20 yards with 26 and receptions over 40 yards with 10. The only time the Jets have given up points are when they have seen breakdowns resulting in big plays. Revis is the guy best equipped to do this. Yes, Cromartie is more likely to give things up to Ward than he is against Wallace, but getting beaten by Wallace once might be more damaging than giving up five to Ward. A completion to Ward means a first down. A completion to Wallace can mean six points. It is important to minimize Wallace.
Not all of Wallace's big plays are deep either. He makes some big plays on runs on screens and slants. That leaves the corner to tackle, which Cromartie is not good at.
ESPN's SportsNation weighed in on this:
56 percent SportsNation viewers would match Darrelle Revis against Mike Wallace instead of Hines Ward if they were Rex Ryan.
SportsNation co-host Colin Cowherd agrees with viewers, "The Steelers offensively are vertically a one-trick pony – Mike’s it. Hines is more of a blocker than a receiver. If you take Wallace out, they’re going to go vertical."
What are your thoughts? Which corner should see more time on Wallace?