The Revis Effect

Blockbuster trades don’t happen often in the NFL. If a big name player is traded it’s usually at the end of his career for fifty-cents-on-the-dollar. A good example of this is Anquan Boldin being traded for a 6th round pick. The real blockbusters – a top echelon player being traded while still in his 20’s – happens maybe once every five to ten years.

We got our blockbuster.

Yesterday, Darrelle Revis was traded from the New York Jets to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for what amounts to a 2013 1st round pick and a 2014 3rd round pick. The Buccaneers also shelled out a 6 year, $16 million per year contract to Revis that is the ultimate pay for performance deal. $13M per year is a base salary, with a $1.5M roster bonus and a $1.5M option bonus each year as well. Essentially, it’s a $16M per year salary and there are no guarantees in the contract.

For Revis, this contract makes sense if he believes he can maintain his level of play for at least a few years. He’s making QB money every year as long as he’s still on the roster. But with no bonus and no guarantees, he can be cut at any time with zero cap penalty to the Bucs. Actually, they are even rewarded with $16M in cap space in all the unplayed years left on the contract.

Not many teams can afford to pay two players “QB type of money.” Josh Freeman is going into the final year of his rookie contract which is one of the reasons that Tampa has enough cap space to sign Revis in the first place. Cap space is now dwindling and will continue to do so if the Bucs decide to re-up Freeman after this year.

So why pay Revis nearly the same amount that the best quarterbacks in the NFL are getting right now? Easy.

The Revis Effect.

Now, no one can predict how Darrelle Revis’ ACL injury will hold up throughout the season. I’ll simply address it as if we’re going to see that same Revis in 2013 that we saw in 2011 – the 1st team All-Pro cornerback that shutdown nearly every wide receiver he covered.

When Revis is in the game, he provides a significant tactical advantage due to his ability to take away a team’s best wide receiver. The best way that I can explain it is by saying Revis is like having an extra defender on the field. His ability to essentially take one of the offenses biggest weapons out of the game frees up a safety for other duties.

Let’s take a look through the lens of the all-22 film.


What you see here is Revis on an island at the top of the screen. The single-high safety is shading over top of the 2 wide receivers and tight end towards the bottom of the shot. In 11-personnel (1 running back, 1 tight end) and a 3×1 formation (3 receivers to one side) a lot of defenses will elect to play Cover-2 or if they go Cover-3 or Cover-1 man, the CB on an island will usually play in off-coverage. This will allow the receiver a short to intermediate route to ensure that he doesn’t beat the single coverage over the top.

As you see it, even in a personnel package that screams pass, the Jets have 8 men in the box. They’re comfortable leaving Revis in press man outside and a single safety over top of the 3 receivers to one side. The Jets are set up to defend both the run and the pass because of the flexibility that Revis gives them. They’re also daring Tannehill to try to throw at Revis here – something they like to do.

One of the other things that Revis allows is that by dropping a safety in the box the Jets can clutter the middle of the field making it harder to find windows to throw into. Revis essentially has the left 1/3 of the field covered. The Jets have more than enough available players to drop into coverage to blanket the remaining 2/3 of the field.

This is the game that Revis injured his ACL in. That shot was from the 2nd quarter. Revis was injured in the 3rd quarter. Let’s take a look and see how the Jets played after Revis exited the game with an injury.

AntiRevis Effect

In this shot you actually see Tannehill in the shotgun with two running backs and three wide receivers. You can still see all the corners playing press coverage (the Jets preferred alignment) but now you see two high safeties with only 7 men in the box – really 6 if you consider that the nickel corner is over the slot. If the Dolphins were to run it they could run a sweep right, a fullback lead draw, or even a wham or trap here. There are plenty of run options but the Jets are forced to guard against the deep ball a little more because they can’t put any of their corners on an island in the same way they do with Revis.

You can also see how the middle of the field, especially the deep middle, is more open for Tannehill to target with a slant or crossing route.

Revis provides so many other benefits for the Bucs beyond just this one example. The Bucs will be able to play Revis inside or outside, left or right of the formation, match him up against any receiver they wish, match him against a TE (hello, Jimmy Graham), and he’ll also allow the Bucs to toy with their safety alignments with two talented safeties in Goldson and Barron.

Darrelle Revis’ presence will keep a lot more points off the board that the Bucs allowed at times last year. This will also translate into less pressure on Josh Freeman. Freeman routinely had to throw 35+ times to keep putting points on the board in a hurry just to keep his team in the game. Now the Tampa offense will be able to rely a little more on its run game (what it prefers to do) and take some of the weight off of Freeman’s shoulders.

Revis is such an asset in so many ways. Did I mention he’s not shy against the run? (That’s him at the RCB position at the bottom of the shot.)


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