The Washington Post

The impact of Darrelle Revis on New England’s defense

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

After Aqib Talib left New England for Denver, the Patriots wasted no time shoring up their secondary with the signing of five-time Pro Bowler Darrelle Revis.

Before signing on with Tampa bay in 2012, the Bucs defense ranked 31 out of the 32 teams for net yards yielded per passing attempt (7.3 NY/A). When the 2013 season ended, it was 21st (6.0 NY/A), despite not utilizing Revis’s strengths. Specifically, the Bucs lined him up on the left side and asked him to play an aggressive zone coverage instead of man-to-man, which is where he shines. Despite this, Revis still managed to excel and will be a huge upgrade to Talib in New England.

“Everyone wants to play cover-2, wants to do all these zone pressures and blitzes and stuff,” Rodney Harrison said. “What about the man-on-man matchup? Guys getting in somebody’s face and following him all across the field? I think Darrelle Revis does that. He can play slot, he can play right, he can play left. I think that gives the Patriots a lot of flexibility.”

Revis does give Coach Bill Belichick an improved option for taking away the opposition’s top receiver, a.k.a. “Revis Island.” Overall, opposing receivers had a 19 percent success rate against Revis last season, with Calvin Johnson leading the way.

Seeing Megatron and Anquan Boldin at the top of the list isn’t surprising: They had 1,489 and 1,179 yards receiving, respectively. However, in 2011 (Revis’s last healthy season with the Jets), Boldin was just 2 for 11, suggesting it could be an issue of the scheme in Tampa Bay rather than ability.

This season, the Patriots will play the NFC North as part of the NFL’s schedule rotation, and there is no shortage of top wideouts in that division.

Belichick could even keep Revis primarily on the left side, which allows fellow newcomer Brandon Browner to stay on the right, like he did during his time with the Seattle Seahawks.

Not only does it allow Browner to remain comfortable at right cornerback (RCB), but it allows the team to have specialists for a specific side of the field. Logan Ryan was primarily a LCB at Rutgers and could be Revis’ back-up. Dennard, Browner, and Arrington are typically placed at RCB.

Of these corners, Dennard and Browner thrive when able to use the sideline to their advantage. By having Revis stay at LCB, the other corners can keep the right sideline for their own benefit.

Either way, look for Revis to propel the Patriots pass defense into the top echelon of the league.

Neil Greenberg analyzes advanced sports statistics for the Fancy Stats blog and prefers to be called a geek rather than a nerd.
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