As evidenced by a painful Week 1 loss to the Bengals, the New York Jets have failed to learn from last year’s mistakes.
Despite all their success last year, the Jets fell short of making the NFL Playoffs after suffering a devastating Week 17 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Jets had every opportunity to win but ultimately made too many crushing mistakes.
In the Bills game, arguably the most egregious mistake by the Jets was how they utilized cornerback Darrelle Revis. Hampered by age and a nagging wrist injury, the star cornerback showed some signs of decline last season. Head coach Todd Bowles nevertheless allowed Revis to match up in single coverage against wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Amassing 136 receiving yards, Watkins led the charge as the Bills upset the Jets.
There are no supermen in the NFL, just mortals grasping for a few moments of immortality. As he has aged, it appears that elite speedy wideouts have become Revis’ Kryptonite. The coaching staff claimed that they learned from the miscues of last season.
Prior to the team’s Week 1 matchup against the Bengals, they promised to use Revis differently. Check out the following quote from Jets’ defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers, courtesy of ESPN’s Rich Cimini:
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"It won’t be just Revis, it will be a lot of people (covering )…It’s not necessarily a one-on-one matchup. A.J. Green"
Green is an elite playmaker, the kind of wide receiver that can single-handedly win a game.
Jets fans were undoubtedly encouraged to hear that their team had a complex support plan in place to help Revis contain Green.
Surely with last year’s debacle fresh on their minds, the Jets would never let the opposition’s best (and arguably only) weapon beat them again.
AJ Green had 12 catches/13 targets, tied for 2nd-best reception pct by WR in a game in last 2 seasons (min. 10 targets), per @ESPNStatsInfo.
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) September 12, 2016
Well, at least the team said the right things.
Against the Bengals, the Jets’ secondary was once again woefully under prepared. Revis struggled mightily, as Green amassed 180 receiving yards and a touchdown. Once again, the Jets relied on Revis to shut down an elite wide receiver. And once again, Revis showed he is not that guy anymore.
After the game, Revis acknowledged his struggles but did not seem particularly concerned, “I can take a punch on the chin.”
If we’re going to use a boxing metaphor, a better one would be that Mike Tyson stepped into the ring against Betty White. And Revis wasn’t Tyson.
Hyperbole aside, the harsh criticism of Revis is a bit excessive. For years, the Jets asked Revis to do things that no other defensive back could do. And Revis thrived, singlehandedly making the league’s best wide receivers look like practice squad players barely able to make an active roster.
But Revis is not the same player anymore. If the Jets want to contend this year, it’s a lesson they need to learn sooner rather than later.