5 Reasons The Patriots Needed To Keep Revis
It’s official; cornerback Darrelle Revis will play just one game in Foxboro next year, when the Jets come to town. His one year in New England couldn’t have been more successful. He helped the team win its fourth Super Bowl, and was handsomely rewarded by their division rival (to the tune of $39 millions guaranteed).
Setting aside whether the Patriots botched the situation, here are five reasons they should have kept him on the roster.
1. Doubling “The Other Side Of The Island”
In 2014, the Patriots faced a five-week mid-season gauntlet. They played three division leaders (Broncos, Packers, and Colts), as well as the 7-3 Lions and the 8-4 Chargers. And they went 4-1, the only loss a five-pointer in Green Bay.
How did they beat the likes of Peyton Manning, Megatron, and Philip Rivers? By having Revis shut down (and in some cases shut out) his man, and then doubling the other receiving weapons. Revis sometimes took the best receiver, sometimes the second-best. But his man never had an impact on the game, in any of those games.
2. Difference-maker in the Playoffs
In the Patriots first playoff game this year, Baltimore built up a first-half lead, mostly against zone coverage. But once the Patriots switched to man coverage, Revis shut out veteran Steve Smith. Pretty important in a game that came down to the final seconds.
And remember that touchdown Revis gave up in the Super Bowl? You know, the one where the referee picked him off and receiver Doug Baldwin got penalized for his scatological celebration. That was Baldwin’s only catch in the game, and he was covered all game long by none other than Revis.
Who will the Patriots put on Smith if they play the Ravens again next year? Who on the roster has a history of shutting down the best receivers in the biggest games? Now that Revis is gone, the answer to both questions is: no one.
3. Cornerback Talent Drop-off Severe
With Revis gone and Brandon Browner looking gone, the Patriots opening day starters next year are Alfonzo Dennard and Malcolm Butler outside with Kyle Arrington in the slot. But that’s not the worst of it; your fourth and fifth corners: Logan Ryan and… well maybe they’ll move safety Devin McCourty back to corner.
It isn’t always at the top where these kinds of mistakes hurt, it’s what you have to put at the bottom of your roster to replace journeymen who get promoted to starters.
4. Secondary Coaching Sub-standard
Since Asante Samuel left the team in 2008, the secondary coaching has been less than stellar. In fact, most of the young corners regress the more time they spend learning the Patriot Way of defensive back play -- i.e. give a big cushion, never turn to look for the ball, and hope it’s an overthrow.
McCourty was a legitimate Pro Bowler as a rookie, a semi-disaster his second year, and moved to safety his third.
Dennard had 7 starts and 3 interceptions his rookie year, 9 starts but just 1 INT in his second, and his lowest number of starts, INTs, and tackles in 2014.
Ryan looked like the up-and-comer in 2013, but got beaten whenever he was on the field in 2014.
Without a decent coach, it was imperative to have some veteran leadership to help the young secondary along. Revis was perfect in that role last year, but now he’ll be doing it for the Jets instead.
5. Brady’s Window coincides with Revis’
Quarterback Tom Brady has about three or four elite-level seasons left. And that’s probably what Revis has, playing cornerback at a high level until age 34 isn’t out of the question.
It would have been nice to see if Brady could get five or even six rings before it’s all said and done. He still could do it. But it would have been a lot easier with an elite cornerback to compliment the team’s elite quarterback.
All the usual provisos apply. The Patriots will likely win 12 games and the division next year. If healthy, they could make the AFC Championship Game or even the Super Bowl. But if they get beaten in the playoffs, we might look back on this day and wonder what might have been...