For years, cornerback Darrelle Revis of the New York Jets has dominated and earned the title as an elite player. With signs of decline, could he no longer be considered elite?
Ever since being selected in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Darrelle Revis has been one of the most consistent and shut down cornerbacks the game has seen in years. He made his mark as an elite cornerback during his time with the New York Jets before departing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and then the New England Patriots. Going on 31-years-old, has Revis officially began to regress in his performance?
For the first time in his career, Revis Island is now facing questions as to whether or not he’s still capable of keeping up with the top receiving options the NFL has to offer. It’s no secret that Revis’s performance last season took a steady decline based off of his previous years. His worst game of his career came on November 22nd, when wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins completely obliterated him through the air. Could his age have played a factor? Or perhaps the reason why Hopkins tore the Jets’ secondary apart was due to his wrist injury? It’s hard to tell in the grand scheme of things.
Revis’s wrist injury wasn’t disclosed during the 2015 season, however, it was revealed he indeed was battling an injury last year when he received wrist surgery in March to repair a ruptured tendon. Revis wouldn’t go as far as to say his injury was the reason why he didn’t meet the expectations of others, however, it could the start of his eventual decline.
According to ProFootballWeekly.com, out of the 50 players ranked in the sites ‘Super 50’ countdown, Revis was ranked as the 27th best player. He ranked higher than fellow cornerbacks such as Josh Norman (48) and Jason Verrett (38). He also ranked higher than No.1 wide outs such as teammate Brandon Marshall (30), Larry Fitzgerald (34), and even Hopkins (32).
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While Revis did decline in certain aspects on defense, one notable accomplishment he achieved in 2015 was finishing the regular season with five interceptions and his seventh Pro-Bowl nomination of his career.
The Jets’ defense overall finished as the No. 4 best defense in the league.
Even though the Jets finished with a top defense, it still doesn’t change the outcome of his performances in games such as the Houston Texans or Week 17 against the Buffalo Bills, where Revis was burned by both Hopkins (5-118-2) and Sammy Watkins (11-136-0).
The one aspect, besides Revis’s wrist injury, which without a doubt played an important factor in his downhill season, is the fact that he was the highest paid cornerback in the NFL in 2015.
When a cornerback gives up multiple 100-plus receiving yard games, struggles in coverage against young receivers and begins to show that father time is starting to slowly but surely creep up on him, talks about whether or not you still have what it takes to live up to your current contract will surface.
Unfortunately for Revis, he finds himself in this exact situation. Revis may not be the same player he once was before he tore his ACL, but he’s not washed up. Going on 31-years-old and following a wrist injury which plagued his 2015 season, Revis will now look forward to the 2016 regular season for redemption.
If he wasn’t the highest paid cornerback in the league and had a reasonable contract, we probably wouldn’t be having this discussion about him declining. But the fact of the matter is that he wanted to be the highest paid cornerback in the league. What comes with being the highest paid player is having the ability to perform at an elite level. He may not be the best overall cornerback in the game anymore, but he’s still a feared defender.
With the rise of young, future star cornerbacks such as Norman, Marcus Peters and many more, the spotlight that has surfaced around Revis Island for years has dimmed. Revis will enter the 2016 season looking to return back to original form after eventually fully rehabbing his wrist back to 100%.
Once he’s fully recovered and healthy to start, we’ll then see whether or not injuries were the prime reason for his decline, or if father time is to be blamed.