Daily Focus: Jets' Darrelle Revis still an elite NFL CB?
Editor’s note: Every day in “Daily Focus,” PFF analysts take the latest NFL news and translate what it really means for each team involved.
Is Darrelle Revis still considered an elite cornerback? There is no doubt that Darrelle Revis has been one of the best cornerbacks of the past decade, as his stats and grades clearly back that up. Since 2007, Revis’ rookie year, not a single season has gone by where the former Pittsburgh Panther has graded negatively. He owns the highest single-season overall and coverage grade among all cornerbacks in the PFF era (which now goes back to 2006); during the 2009 season, he was so dominant that QBs targeting him had an NFL passer rating of 29.1. Why he was targeted 127 times that season (allowed 48 catches, had eight interceptions, and 24 pass defenses) is beyond me, but the sheer dominance of that run earned him the nickname “Revis Island.”
At age 30, Revis graded out okay in 2015, and even traditional stats show that he allowed a passer rating of just 56.5. When you put on the film, however, he clearly had lost a step and didn’t display that shutdown ability that we’ve grown accustomed to. His most obvious blunder was against Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins, a matchup in which Revis allowed a deep TD and 114 yards.
2015 was a tale of two halves for Revis, as he graded negatively just once in the first eight games, but positively just once the final six (he missed two games due to injury). He suffered from a concussion in-season, but also had offseason wrist surgery, something he played through during the year. Based on his play after Week 9, one could assume that the wrist injury happened around midseason, as he went from a top-six cornerback to a bottom-10 one.
Through nine weeks, Revis allowed a catch percentage of 46.5 (third-lowest in the NFL), a passer rating of 44.0 (second-best mark in the league), had three INTs (tied for third-most among CBs), while grading as the sixth-best cornerback. From Week 10 to the end of the season, he allowed a catch percentage of 46.5 (ninth-lowest), a passer rating of 68.9 (17th), had two INTs (tied for seventh-most), while grading as the 96th overall cornerback (out of 105). While his traditional stats were equal or just slightly worse than his first-half performance, the advanced stats and grades show a different story—Revis wasn’t very good in the second half of the season.
Expect a return to “Revis Island” form this year, assuming the veteran CB is healthy. Former Jet Tony Richardson says Revis will be playing with a “massive chip on his shoulder” in 2016. While he might not be as fast as he once was, he still brings elite-level play to the field. This could be seen just last year before his injuries, but he also has an entire career to back this up. While we may never see another season like his 2009 campaign, the former first-rounder was on his way to a top-five season before injury, and barring any setbacks, should do the same again in 2016.
Impact of Sheldon Rankins injury in New Orleans: Saints first-rounder Sheldon Rankins (Louisville) was carted off the field on Monday while the team was practicing goal-line situations. It was later revealed that he had broken his fibula and will need surgery, but could return in six to eight weeks. While the initial results from the medical tests are better than expected considering that the injury involved his lower leg, a rookie that was expected to make a big impact early on will now miss significant reps and valuable experience—and the Saints’ defense will likely suffer as a result.
PFF analysts really liked Rankins in the 2016 draft, ranking him as the No. 8 overall prospect after he dominated the ACC the past two years. Quick, explosive, and playing with good leverage, Rankins was too much to handle at the collegiate level. While he’ll have a much more difficult time making plays against NFL interior offensive lineman, his skills translate well to the pro level, and he showed a little bit of that in the first preseason game against New England, where he graded positively on just 12 pass-rushing snaps, recording a QB hit and a hurry. Hopefully we’ll get to see Rankins in the second half of the season to assess his transition to the NFL.
The Saints’ defensive line will need to adjust to losing Rankins. Fortunately, they added free-agent Nick Fairley this offseason, and he’ll be able to help lessen the blow. Fairley has been a bit of an outcast in the NFL, but has graded very well in his five-year career, earning positive marks every season in run defense and pass rushing, save for a slightly below-average year against the run in 2013. New Orleans fielded one of the worst defenses in 2015—second-worst in overall grades—and will now be without its top pick for at least the first part of the season.
Hue Jackson should ease WR Josh Gordon back into Browns’ offense: On Monday, WR Josh Gordon was on the field at Browns training camp practice for the first time in over 600 days. Gordon was reinstated by commissioner Roger Goodell on July 26, but will serve a four-game suspension to start the season. Suspensions are the norm for Gordon, but the difference in this one is that he can now be with the team every step of the way, not just for the games. This is significant for the 25-year-old, as in his previous suspensions, he hasn’t been allowed to have any contact with the organization.
Gordon had been nursing a quadriceps injury, hence the delay in his return to the practice field, but yesterday he was activated from the NFI list and participated in light drills. He won’t play in Thursday’s game against Atlanta, according to head coach Hue Jackson. The earliest he might play, then, will be the third preseason game against Tampa Bay.
What can we expect to see from Gordon when he returns to game action against New England in Week 5 of the season? Probably not a lot; expect Jackson to ease Gordon back into the offense. Gordon led the league in receiving yards in 2013, with 1,646 in just 14 games, while averaging 18.9 yards per reception (tops in the league with a minimum of 35 catches). It’s way too early to determine what type of impact Gordon will have in 2016 and beyond, but his return is a sign of good things in Cleveland.