Darrelle Revis makes the tackle against Nebraska
One of the most intriguing matchups during the NFL's Kickoff Weekend will be between one of the best cornerbacks in the game, the Jets' Darrelle Revis, against one of the best wide receivers in the game, the Texans' Andre Johnson.
Both played in the Pro Bowl last season, after making an impact on their respective teams — Revis snatched five interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, and Johnson grabbed 115 receptions for 1,575 yards and eight TDs.
But Sunday begins a whole new year.
"This is the real season now. There is no playing games," said Revis. "We have to focus up. This is why we get paid the big bucks to do what we do."
The Jets' secondary must focus on shutting down a Houston passing game that was ranked fourth last season in yards per game with 266.7, led by Johnson's 98.4 ypg.
Revis sees this matchup as a great way to start his and the Jets' season off.
"It's going to be a big challenge," he said. "He's one of the top receivers in the league, he's a big guy — 6'3" 230. He can do everything. He can run, he's very physical. It's going to be a challenge, I'm ready for it and I'm ready to go."
The Texans ranked in the top ten the past two seasons combined in allowing a sack every 21.1 dropbacks to support their potent passing attack. The ability of the Jets this week to put pressure on quarterback Matt Schaub will help Revis and the DBs because it doesn't require them to hold their coverage as long.
Revis said that what the Texans coaches may see on video from the preseason when the Jets recorded 18 sacks is not necessarily what they will see Sunday.
"They might have our basic personnel," said the corner, who will be playing opposite another former Pro Bowl CB in Lito Sheppard. "But when we bring certain guys in the game, they might not have picked up on our personnel or know what they do. That's great for our secondary. We have a lot of guys back there. Eric Smith, Drew Coleman, [Donald] Strickland — those are guys that can come up and make plays as well."
The Green & White will try to blitz and pressure the Texans from all over the field. Jets head coach Rex Ryan has always brought the heat. In the 10 years he served as a Baltimore defensive coach, six years as the D-line coach and the past four as coordinator, the Ravens ranked fourth in the NFL with 416 sacks.
Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is aware of a Ryan-coached defense's attacking ability and said that could help Revis in coverage.
"Of course, the pressure that they're able to get on the quarterback helps any corner in football, but he's an exceptional player," said Kubiak. "That's a matchup that Andre is going to see a bunch. It's a big challenge for Andre."
Though Revis has never played against Johnson, he compared him to a few guys he has played against.
"Andre falls into the category of the Randy Moss/Terrell Owens-type receivers," he said. "I have played against T.O. and Randy, so I think I feel comfortable in my gameplan and the schemes that we have this week."
The third-year corner knows Johnson on a personal level after teaming up with him for a few events the past two off-seasons. He was told by Ryan earlier in the week that he'd be the one matching up with him.
"We're not going to just put one guy on him ... as far as I know," joked Ryan. "So we'll see. But, no, I mean, this guy is a great receiver. I certainly have a lot of confidence in our corners as well. It's going to be a good matchup."
"I know he's studying on me very well," said Revis. "It's going to be competition, it's going to be a fun game for us. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to getting to him as well."
As far as trash talk, that's not something that Revis gets into. Come game time, his mind is always on the task at hand.
"It's going to be very quiet out there, but if you see both of our faces we're going to be very focused," he said. "I think we'll just let our game play for itself."