From one of the greatest one-on-one cover corners in history to a bum in 2016. What exactly is the legacy of Darrelle Revis with the New York Jets?
The New York Jets are going into the 2017 season with an eye towards the future. Whether they are tanking or rebuilding depends on your personal definition. ESNY’s Boy Green and Ty Butler tackled that very topic last week on ” The Jets Zone” podcast.
This season, there is going to be a lot said about the young players that the Jets are building around, but it’s also a good opportunity to discuss the past — more specifically, which players meant what to the team.
Darrelle Revis is something of a lightning rod among Jets fans. Some say his skill level and domination of opposing wide receivers makes him a very important part of Jets lore. Others point to the fact that he had multiple holdouts and, in some ways, forced the Jets to trade him, and think that it diminishes his standing in the team’s history books.
Revis was a great player. Nobody can dispute that notion.
The first-round pick lived up to his billing, becoming a key cog in the Jets secondary. His ability to shut down top wide receivers week after week allowed Rex Ryan to run the aggressive, heavy-blitzing defense that he favored.
However, money was always a point of contention between Revis and the Jets. Revis didn’t sign his rookie contract until August of his draft year to get more money (this was before the rookie contract limitations put in place by the Collective Bargaining Agreement).
According to CBS Sports’ Jared Dubin, Revis held quarterbacks to passer ratings of 29.1, 77.4 and 45.6 from 2009-11.
Did you hear that? Did that fully sink in yet, those mind-boggling numbers?
He then held out in 2010, holding out into September while demanding a new contract. Eventually, he signed a contract that paid him a lot of money early with low salaries later into the contract. We all witnessed this happy time on HBO Hard Knocks.
Oh, those were happy times.
Anyway, he appeared to be on his way to another great season in 2012 before tearing his ACL during a Week 3 victory against the Miami Dolphins. During this time, his ability earned him the nickname of “Revis Island” and he was a key part of a Jets team that made two runs to the AFC Championship game. Entering the 2013 season, he once again stated he would be holding out for a big salary (after missing most of the past season with a torn ACL).
The Jets had a new general manager in John Idzik, who was dealing with a situation where the Jets had no salary cap space thanks to some bad contracts. And while he eventually overdid it, he had to reduce salary to allow the Jets to continue to compete. He decided against paying a player coming off of a major injury a huge raise and traded Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Most believe Woody Johnson was the main cog who forced the move.)
Normally, when a team trades a player as talented as Revis there is backlash from fans about the move. However, two things prevented a large amount of backlash in this case.
First, the Jets received a first round pick, which rarely happens in a trade for a defensive back coming off a torn ACL. Second, fans had begun to grow tired of Revis’ holdouts (he had teased a hold out the previous year but did not go through with it). He had worn out his welcome and fans were not overly upset to see him go.
After a year in Tampa, Revis signed with the Patriots and eventually went on to win a Super Bowl with them. Seeing Darrelle Revis celebrate a Super Bowl with Tom Brady, not to mention Bill Belichick, was the ultimate insult to Jets fans. A player that they had watched dominate wide receivers helping the teams biggest rival win a Super Bowl was horrible, especially while the Jets floundered.
But that offseason, Revis did something to make every fan forget about that.
He came home.
It didn’t matter that he got a massive contract from a GM required spending a lot of money to comply with NFL Salary Cap rules, the prodigal son had returned. Revis Island was back in the green and white.
His first year back was amazing. He held opposing QBs to a rating of 56.5 and was a key part of a Jets team that shocked everybody by winning 10 games and just barely missing the playoffs.
In 2016 the bottom dropped out. His QB rating against spiked to 109.8. Quarterbacks went from fearing to throw to the side of the field he was covering to intentionally targeting receivers he was covering. He was missing tackles, getting beat, and according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, friends of his said he didn’t want to play football anymore. He was released after the end of the season.
Revis was a historically great football player in his prime. He could shut down the best receivers week in and week out, allowing the defense pressure quarterbacks.
But there’s no chance in the world we can label him a “Great Jet” thanks to his nagging salary demands and perceived lack of effort during his final season in green. The rough memories have appropriately clouded Darrelle Revis’s greatness with the New York Jets.