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NY Jets Saturday Spotlight: Revis Island

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Will Amari Cooper be stranded on the Island on Sunday?

Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Saturday Spotlight.   Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week. Today's player in the spotlight is cornerback Darrelle Revis.  Revis is a 6' 0", 205 pound, 30 year old cornerback out of the University of Pittsburgh.  He was originally drafted by the New York Jets in the first round as the 14th overall selection of the 2007 NFL draft.  Revis has been a four time All Pro and six time Pro Bowl selection in his brilliant career.

Revis was an instant starter for the Jets in 2007, but struggled a bit in his rookie year, as most rookies do.  He improved greatly in his second year, making the Pro Bowl, before teaming up with new Jets head coach Rex Ryan in 2009 to produce one of the greatest single seasons a cornerback has ever had.  In 2009 an All Pro cornerback was born, and Revis Island became a newly charted territory, with weekly visitors but few survivors.  Revis had the best years of his career under Ryan, garnering first team All Pro honors in each of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons.  He developed a well earned reputation as one of the league's few shutdown cornerbacks, having limited numerous All Pro receivers to such pedestrian numbers as to make them non-factors in games against the Jets.  With Revis on the field the Jets could afford to "leave him on an island" against any receiver in the NFL, secure in the knowledge even the best receivers were unlikely to do serious damage.  This allowed the Jets to routinely roll safety support to other areas, helping the Jets pass defense become one of the most feared in the NFL during its brief heyday.

Then came 2012, a disastrous year for both the Jets and Revis.  In just the second game of the season Revis injured his ACL and was lost for the season.  A long and arduous rehabilitation followed, and Revis, while still great, has never been quite the same cornerback since.  At the same time, without Revis, and with the subsequent season ending injury to receiver Santonio Holmes, the Jets collapsed to a 6-10 record in 2012.  General Manager Mike Tannenbaum payed the price for the collapse of the Jets and was fired, replaced by legendary Jets GM John Idzik.  One of Idzik's first moves as the new GM was to trade Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a couple of draft choices.  After one unhappy year in Tampa under clueless head coach Greg Schiano, the Buccaneers cleaned house and brought in a new general manager and head coach.  The new team started the housecleaning by cutting Revis, who was quickly snapped up by the New England Patriots, where he won his only Super Bowl title in 2014.  Revis' contract with the Patriots was structured in such a way that he was highly unlikely to return for an encore in 2015, so he once again became a free agent after the 2014 season, and the Jets new general manager Mike Maccagnan moved decisively to scoop him up as the centerpiece of a dramatic overhaul of the Jets secondary.

Here are Darrelle Revis' NFL statistics:

Year

Games

Passes Defended

Interceptions

Tackles

Assists

.

2007

16

17

3

74

13

2008

16

16

5

45

13

2009

16

31

6

47

7

2010

13

9

0

26

6

2011

16

21

4

41

11

2012

2

3

1

8

3

2013

16

11

2

43

7

2014

16

16

2

44

6

2015

6

3

3

10

6

Darrelle Revis is no longer the cornerback he was in 2009.  He no longer plays press coverage nearly every snap, striving to deny his opponent the ball on every play.  He no longer is physically capable of the other worldly level of play on which the legend of Revis Island was based.  Revis now picks his spots, often playing off coverage and reading the quarterback's eyes.  He often baits quarterbacks and tries to make them think a passing lane is open, then closes for a pass deflection or interception.  Revis is still great, still one of the best in the game, but he is no longer the incredible, freakishly great, force of nature he was in 2009.  On the other hand, the way he now plays lends itself to more turnovers generated.  Revis was never a huge interception guy, but his current style of play may well turn him into one of the league's interception leaders over the next few years.

In the matchup with the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, rookie Amari Cooper presents precisely the kind of challenge Revis was signed to deal with.  Cooper is a magnificent rookie receiver.  He leads the Raiders with 519 receiving yards and three touchdowns in 6 games, on pace for a monster rookie year of nearly 1400 yards and 8 touchdowns.  Cooper is by far the Raiders' most deadly weapon.  Thus far this year, as Cooper goes, so go the Raiders.  In the Raiders' three wins, Cooper has gone off for 109, 133 and 134 receiving yards, and the Raiders have scored 37, 27 and 37 points.  In the Raiders' three losses Cooper has been limited to 47, 49 and 47 receiving yards, and the Raiders have scored 13, 10 and 20 points.  Through the first six games of the season, the formula for beating the Raiders has been simple: shut down Cooper, and you win.  Cooper dominates, and you lose.

This is precisely the kind of situation Revis was brought in to handle.  While he may not be quite what he once was, Revis is still one of the best cornerbacks in the game, and fully capable of taking even a supremely talented rookie like Cooper to school.  Revis makes giant gobs of money to do exactly this job.  Time for him to be the shutdown cornerback he is paid to be.

If Revis strands Cooper on the Island, the rest of the Raiders' offense is unlikely to present a formidable challenge for one of the league's best defenses.  A limited Cooper likely means another win for the Jets.  On the other hand, if youth is served and the talented rookie gets the better of the matchup, it may well be a long and fruitless day for the Jets.

Darrelle Revis has been a huge star in the NFL.  He was brought home to anchor a revamped Jets secondary and provide the kind of shutdown cornerback coverage mostly missing since his departure.  Sunday's game provides Revis the perfect canvas on which to produce yet another masterpiece performance.  In an Oakland venue that has not been kind to the Jets over the years, Revis stands in the spotlight, all alone on an island against Cooper.  This is Darrelle Revis' moment to shine.  This is his time to once again remind people of just how good he can be.  This is the time to bring home a rare and much needed win in Oakland.  Revis in the spotlight offers a chance to justify the huge investment the Jets made in him.  Let's hope he shines bright on Sunday.