The Jets and Redskins engaged in a wee of Island banter during the past week, all as a result of Darrelle Revis showing his "human" side against Stevie Johnson and the Bills one Sunday ago.
"Darrelle wasn't ready for that, because nobody does that," Washington coach Mike Shanahan speculated idly at midweek. "It probably caught him a little bit by surprise. I don't think anybody's going to catch him by surprise anymore."
So did Revis think that observation suggested Rex Grossman and the ShanaSkins wouldn't be challenging the Jets' All-Pro cornerback this] afternoon at FedEx Field?
"I can't tell you that so he can read it," Revis laughed. "No, if that's his opinion, I mean, I don't know. It might be reversed, him wanting me to relax and then they do come after me. I prepare the same way every week and every week I approach it the same. I just focus on what I need to do as a player for this team to try to get a win."
The upshot of this give-and-take has less to do with Revis bouncing back — no one on the Jets or on any other team's sideline expects anything less. But it hints at one very important potential aspect of today's interconference game: Whoever wins the takeaway battle is likely to take away Week 13 victory as well.
"I Think We'll Get Some More Picks"
The ability to acquire turnovers is one of those evanescent qualities. When you've got it, you think you'll never lose it, like the perfect golf swing or batting stroke or uncanny way with members of the opposite sex. Then suddenly it's gone and the mad scramble to rediscover the lost art.
The Jets have been like that ... with takeaways, we mean. The interceptions were flowing to Revis and Antonio Cromartie while the fumbles were bouncing into the breadbaskets of NT Sione Pouha and "Bo's Bros" on the front line. In their 5-3 start, opponents had turned the ball over to them 19 times, tied for second-most in the NFL.
The last three games the Green & White have no interceptions and just one forced fumble, which they recovered at Denver. One takeaway in a three-game span is a drought not experienced since the first half of the 2008 season. No doubt it's been a key factor in two losses followed by the comeback and survival against the Bills that kept the Jets' playoff run alive at 6-5.
"This past week I would've liked to have gotten some opportunities and some picks against Buffalo. That never happened. Give them credit for that," head coach Rex Ryan said. "But we'll see. I feel good about our secondary. I think we have guys that are good at catching the football. I think we'll lay enough things out there that will confuse some teams. I think we'll get some more picks."
No better opportunity than today in Landover, Md. The Redskins (4-7) certainly are feeling frisky after they went up to the Pacific Northwest and toppled the Seahawks, 23-17, with Grossman completing 26 of 35 passes for 314 yards, two TDs and two INTs.
But some Washington trends were not altered by that one feelgood victory. The Redskins' turnover differential is minus-11 this season. They are the only NFL team not to have at least one "plus" turnover game this season. And for the 10th consecutive game, they turned the ball at least twice.
The Grossman Report
A big part of the reason is Grossman, who has had his ups but also his downs in 2011. On the down side, the Redskins' Rex is tied for 29th among the league's quarterbacks with 14 interceptions, and because he sat out three games, his 270 attempts give him a 5.2 percent INT rate, which is the lowest among the 33 qualifying QBs.
Enter Revis, who, whether he's lined up against Anthony Armstrong, Jabar Gaffney or old Jets hand Santana Moss, back from a hand injury, whether he grabs his fifth pick of the season or leaves it to others, is super-motivated to lead not only his own personal recovery program but a rebound for the pass defense as a whole.
"That's usually what happens in practice," said coordinator Mike Pettine after the Jets' first two practices of the week. 'If you catch a ball on him in practice, I wouldn't want to be the receiver that lines up across from him next. But he's a competitor, and he's a classic guy that I think is just so mentally tough that he'll put this week behind him.
"And again, we're talking about it like it was somehow a bad week. By his ridiculously high standards I guess you could make the argument that it was, but Darrelle Revis is the least of our worries this week, I think, heading down to Washington."
Revis' scouting report on Grossman: "He can throw. He has a big arm. Yeah, you see him on film trying to throw into tight spots, but he can throw the ball. He can complete a ball on anybody in the league. It doesn't matter who the best corner is or who the best secondary is. I think the one thing we can do is put pressure on him. That's on any quarterback. Put pressure on him. Make him a little bit jittery back there and force some turnovers."
And Shanahan's possible advice to his quarterback about throwing near Revis as the Bills did:
"Not too often, anyhow."
Similar Theme for Offense, Teams
The takeaway theme extends to the Jets' other units of operation. On offense, the Jets haven't been turnover machines but the gaffes they make have been costly. Against the Bills, Mark Sanchez's underthrow for Santonio Holmes was snared by Leodis McKelvin, setting the visitors up for a short TD drive. Five Sanchez giveaways (two fumbles, three picks) have been taken directly to the house while 16 personal giveaways (five FUMs, 11 INTs) have produced a high average of 4.1 opponent points per giveaway this year.
OC Brian Schottenheimer said things have been going better for Sanchez but those big mistakes do hurt.
"Obviously, there are throws that he would like to have back, I think the interception the other day, those things happen. The problem with Mark is some of the decisions that he's made have been tough situations because they've been interceptions, some have been returned for touchdowns," Schotty said.
"If you are evaluating the decisions, I'd say yes, he's probably made more positive decisions this year than negative. Unfortunately, when you make a bad decision and it gets returned for a big play or something bad happens, it's obviously going to get blown out of proportion. I think [more positive decisions this year], that's something he should be proud of. Now, let's just cut out a couple of the other ones that have been really tough."
The same could be said for Mike Westhoff's special teams, which lost their fifth fumble of the year on Antonio Cromartie's muffed fair catch. That equals the worst season figure of the Jets' past 30 seasons, five ST giveaways in 1995 and again in 2005, and five games remain to this season.
There are many other parts to the Jets' hoped-for road win. They will try to get their ground game rolling with Shonn Greene and a freshly returned LaDainian Tomlinson and will try to protect Sanchez from the 'Skins' strong pass rush. Defensively they'll need to contain RB Roy Helu, who had 162 yards of offense at Seattle.
But the give and take of this game will have a lot to say about if the Jets remain viable AFC playoff contenders by the time they board their train back to North Jersey this evening.