How should Bucs use Revis?

DeSean Jackson of the Eagles hauls in a touchdown pass over Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis.
DeSean Jackson of the Eagles hauls in a touchdown pass over Bucs cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Published Oct. 20, 2013

TAMPA — About three weeks ago, more than three years after filing for it, Darrelle Revis was awarded registered trademark ownership of the phrase "Revis Island."

But there haven't been many visitors to that isolated location on the field lately. In fact, Tampa Bay fans, NFL analysts and, perhaps, the cornerback himself are wondering why the Bucs aren't making more use of his patented, lockdown, man-to-man coverage abilities.

The best example?

With the Bucs trailing by a point in the fourth quarter last week, Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson lined up in the slot. Revis was outside in his customary left cornerback position in man coverage on Riley Cooper, the No. 3 wideout.

Jackson ran a deep crossing route and hauled in a 36-yard touchdown. The Bucs actually had Jackson double-teamed with safeties Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron, but he beat both.

Earlier in the game, Revis lined up opposite Jackson in man-to-man coverage but was several yards off of the ball. Revis played an outside technique, perhaps indicating he expected help over the middle of the field. Jackson beat Revis to the inside, ran a post and scored easily.

One week earlier, Revis was beaten for a touchdown on a double move by Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Is Revis being given a chance to earn his $16 million per year salary? Or is Revis, as ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski says, being miscast in zone coverage while Revis Island remains deserted?

"I don't really get into all of that," Revis said.

Jaworski says Revis is being misused.

"Darrelle Revis is still, even after (last season's torn ACL), one of the best lockdown, shutdown corners," Jaworski said during a segment for ESPN. "Watching that (Eagles) tape, I just didn't see the use of Darrelle Revis on the island. I really thought there were only two plays the entire game when he was put in the position with no help at all and saying, 'Take this guy and take him out of the game.'

"I didn't understand the use in taking Darrelle Revis, putting him on Riley Cooper. When DeSean Jackson is in the slot, it's almost automatic fireworks going off with a shot play, and it was an easy touchdown. So I'm a little bit questioning, as a head-scratcher, why he's not playing more man-to-man, on the island, take one player out of the game."

Generally, Revis prefers to play a few yards off the receiver, even when he is in man coverage. It gives him a chance to read the quarterback and jump a route.

But what is often confused for zone coverage is Revis playing man to man while the other Bucs play quarter-quarter/half-coverage behind him. Quarters coverage is when two players split their half of the field into two quarters. Typically, one is cornerback Johnthan Banks, who is responsible for the area between the sideline and the numbers. A safety, either Goldson or Barron, covers the area between the numbers and the hash. The other safety takes the other half of the field.

"We do … like most teams do," said Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, who invited armchair defensive coordinators to meet him at 5:20 each morning to develop game plans. "You have a matchup corner that you're going to put on their premier … receiver. It's not anything you do every snap, but (Revis is) definitely that guy for us."

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Sheridan also explained Jackson's touchdowns:

"On the first one, they ran away from the zone leverage, and (Revis) would probably tell you himself he wishes he would have played it better. On the second one, it was a fairly good route concept. It was a deep up-and-over we call 'cross country mentality.' We had back-end people back there, but it's bending away from them. So you've really got to run to catch it. But those guys will tell you they should've, would've, could've played a little bit better."

For all of their reinvestment in the secondary with Revis and Goldson, the Bucs rank 16th in pass defense at 247.8 yards per game but 10th in points allowed at 20.2 per game. Among their six interceptions, three have been by defensive backs.

"We've got to do a better job in the secondary," Revis said.

"We feel that's the strength of our defense, and we've got to play better."

Rick Stroud can be heard from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620. Follow him on Twitter at @NFLStroud.