Playbook: Have WRs found key to unlocking ‘Revis Island’?

While a 17th-ranked run defense has taken the luster off the Jets’ aura this year, the deterioration of one facet of New York’s defense has prompted fans to ask another question: Is it really that hard to escape from “Revis Island?”

@DrewfromJersey, on Twitter, asked “How are teams attacking [Darrelle] Revis this year differently than in previous years?”

Looking at the stats, you can see that teams are attacking Revis more this year than last. He’s faced 76 targets already in 2011, as opposed to only 56 in all of 2010. But after watching the tape, we have to say that not much has changed when it comes to Revis. He remains arguably the best cover corner in the league. At the same time, the Jets’ front seven has often afforded opposing receivers a lot of time to work on uncovering themselves from Revis.

Revis’ feet are the best in the game, and he has the mind to match them, practically running receivers’ routes for them. Any wide receiver, however, can “move” any corner out of position with technique and the time to execute it.

A general rule for a receiver is to move a corner back “one body width” laterally after the snap –- forcing a defender’s leg to replace the other off first movement.  The perfect case study for this is Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson, who racked up 11 balls for 159 yards versus the Jets this season. On tape, you see Johnson use a combination of inside and outside moves on his release, sometimes using two and three moves before snapping his route.

But again, Johnson gained time for openings to the inside because of an inconsistent Jets pass rush. If quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had one of Rex Ryan‘s free runners bearing down on him (like we’ve grown to know Rex for), he would have had to throw that pass into the ground or would have been sacked.

Defensive linemen Shaun Ellis, Trevor Pryce and Bryan Thomas aren’t big names, but they are sorely missed this season. They are not the primary rushers in blitz situations, but they are responsible for occupying blockers and making sure linebackers and defensive backs are unaccounted for. They understood their role in blitz packages –- to occupy.

When you look at the stats, opposing quarterbacks still struggle versus the Jets’ pressure schemes (they hold QBs to a league-best 62.2 rating using the blitz). At the same time, Revis is allowing 42.1 percent of the targets thrown his way to be completed, as opposed to 33.9 percent last year and 37 percent in 2009. Nevertheless, it remains evident that, when you watch the tape, those completions were inflicted more by an ineffective pass rush than anything that the offense had imposed upon Revis.

“Playbook” — the ultimate football Xs and Os show — airs Friday at 8 p.m. ET (AFC) and 9 p.m. ET (NFC) on NFL Network. Check the NFL Network broadcast schedule for further details. Follow “Playbook” on Twitter @NFLN_Playbook.

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