While Jets head coach Rex Ryan didn't name Mark Sanchez his starting quarterback yet for the Jets' Week 15 contest vs. the Falcons, he stated his case for Darrelle Revis being named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.
When the Jets' top-ranked pass defense was mentioned at Thursday's news conference, Ryan mentioned communication, preparation and then Revis. Like an attorney in a crowded courtroom making a persuasive case in front of a jury, Ryan looked out at the television cameras and the scribes and laid the hammer down.
"I was going to be subtle about this, but if he's not the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, something's wrong with the system because nobody — and I mean nobody — in the history of the game has had the challenges that he's faced week in and week out," said Ryan. "You look at the top receivers in this game now that he's gone out and matched with and literally almost shut down."
Let's review how Revis has fared against some of the NFL's best wideouts:
|Player, Team||Season Stats||Stats vs. Jets||Revis INT-PD-TD|
|Andre Johnson, at HOU||81-1,237-8||4-35-0||0-0-0|
|Randy Moss, vs. NE||69-1,074-9||4-24-0||1-1-0|
|Marques Colston, at NO||56-908-9||2-33-0||0-3-0|
|Terrell Owens, vs. BUF||45-705-4||3-13-0||0-3-0|
|Randy Moss, at NE||69-1,074-9||5-34-1||0-3-0|
|Steve Smith, vs. CAR||51-765-5||1-5-0||2-3-1|
|Terrell Owens, at BUF||45-705-4||3-31||1-5-0|
"Look at the passes he's broken up, look at the fact that he's out there on an island one-on-one and teams still can't throw that way and if they do it's a mistake," Ryan said. "It's amazing and he deserves it. He's on the No. 1 defense in the league — he's earned that."
Moments after the passion play, Revis talked team. With the Jets still in the thick of the AFC playoff race at 7-6, Revis knows more teammates will get individual recognition if New York's AFC representative remains hot.
"The biggest reason why I play this game is for team goals, not individual goals. If you take care of team goals, what you want to accomplish as a team, individual goals will come," said Revis. "We have a lot of great players on this team. Last year we had seven Pro Bowlers and five alternates, so we have the type of players on this team who can play on a high level and get there."
Next up for Revis is Roddy White. The 6'0", 212-pound White has caught a career-high eight TDs this season and is just 85 yards shy of his third consecutive 1,000-yard campaign.
"It's going to be a good battle. He's a great young receiver. We're both doing our thing, we're both in our primes. We have the same agent, so we know each other very well," said Revis. "I got to spend a lot of time with him out in Hawaii at the Pro Bowl last year. Good guy, hard worker, big guy, a physical test. He's their go-to guy, so that's why I'm going to be on him."
Following up on a Pro Bowl campaign, the 5'11", 198-pound Revis has collected an NFL-high 30 passes defensed and a team-leading six interceptions. But he also is a physical presence who's racked up 60 tackles and is solid in coming up and playing the run. Ryan called it "amazing" how Revis can dominate a game, adding that he's never coached a player — including future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed — who's had more of a physical impact on a team than No. 24.
"He's a pro. He studies the game like crazy," said the man who coordinated the Ravens' defense from 2005-08. "He hits the practice field trying to compete and improve every day. And he's physical, he's a tough guy. He can support the run, he can play man coverage, any zone coverage. It's just the way he attacks his job."
Whoever lines up at quarterback for the Falcons, whether it is backup Chris Redman or Matt Ryan (who returned to practice Thursday on a limited basis), he'll have to be judicious on how he attacks Revis. The corner is white-hot and there are flakes in the forecast.
"We have the momentum coming into this game because first of all we're at home," Revis said. "You play your best when you're at home — you're comfortable. They have been 1-5 on the road, which has been tough for them. Coming up north will be a problem for them. I mean, I'm sure they're doing the best they can to prepare, but it's probably pretty hard. I don't know how cold it is down there right now. If it's snowing, we're used to it and we've been out here in the cold. It's going to be an advantage for us."
There is some thought that Charles Woodson might have an advantage over Revis in the Defensive POY race. The former Heisman Trophy winner might own an impressive stat line — eight interceptions, two touchdowns, two sacks, four forced fumbles — but Ryan didn't rest his case without a comparison.
"Charles can't go on a corner like this guy can. He can move inside and he can blitz and he can do different things like that," he said. "And Revis would be a great blitzer. But I have the best cover guy in America covering over here so he's going to cover. He is not blitzing."
Ryan went all out with a Cover-0. He just dialed up a mammoth blitz on the national media and he's probably feeling pretty comfortable about it because he's got Revis blanketing the field in the back end.