The Tampa Bay Buccaneers invested a first-round draft choice and $96 million in Darrelle Revis after acquiring him from the New York Jets just prior to the 2013 NFL Draft. However, the Buccaneers have grossly misused Revis to the point of absurdity this season.
Even though Revis is coming off of ACL surgery he was still considered the best cover corner in the game. However, the Buccaneers insist on playing zone defense and taking away the best part of Revis’ game. It is a decision that makes little sense and goes a long way to understanding why the Buccaneers are winless at this point of the season.
Revis didn’t earn the moniker “Revis Island” by playing zone. He earned it by literally taking the receiver he was covering almost completely out of the opposing team’s game plan. When Revis was with the Jets Rex Ryan knew he didn’t have to worry about whatever receiver Revis was covering because Revis wouldn’t allow that receiver the breathing space needed to make an impact.
The Buccaneers can say they are playing zone to help Revis recover from his knee surgery but Revis has shown he is healthy. He has shown no ill-effects from his ACL injury. Maybe he lacked the ability to stay with opposing receivers on first step earlier this year but lately he has shown he possesses the explosiveness to stay with receivers. However, Tampa has stuck with the zone scheme.
Greg Schiano has said playing more man-to-man is something he has “looked hard at.” However, he hasn’t shown a commitment to changing the scheme at all and is thus handcuffing one of his best players, if not his best. Essentially, the Buccaneers are shutting down their shut-down corner and doing something offenses haven’t been able to do since Revis entered the NFL in 2007.
Now, instead of one of the best players in the entire game, Revis is lost in a zone scheme, the same kind of zone scheme that allowed Nnamdi Asomugha to go from one of the best cover corners in the game to afterthought. While Revis hasn’t exactly disappeared in the Buccaneers scheme like Asomugha did in the Philadelphia Eagles’ if things aren’t changed soon Revis could be facing the same fate.
The Buccaneers need to seriously reexamine the way their defense plays. Investing as much money, and the draft pick, that the Bucs did with Revis and then making him disappear is not exactly the best utilization of resources. Then again, it doesn’t seem like anything the Bucs have done this year has turned out correctly, why should this be any different?