Darrelle Revis had to be carted off the field Sunday afternoon after injuring his knee on a pass play during the third quarter. Revis’ knee buckled as he fell to the ground, with the injury appearing to be serious. Jets head coach Rex Ryan confirmed the speculation
Monday, announcing that Revis had torn the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee and would be done for the season.
Revis’ loss is a crushing blow for a Jets teams looking to return to Super Bowl contention this season, and an even bigger blow to a defense so dependent on Revis’ ability to basically shut down half of the football field.
The Jets have plenty of talent across their roster and especially on defense, but without Revis, that New York secondary will be exposed by opposing quarterbacks each week. The reality is that nobody on defense can feasibly fill the void he leaves behind.
Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson will be the players charged with guiding the secondary and accounting for at least some of the production lost in Revis’ absence. But while both are talented corners with strong skills in certain areas, the combination of both Cromartie and Wilson still doesn’t make up for the value Revis brings.
Cromartie, at 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, is a physically imposing presence with an impressive ball-hawking ability but less-than-desirable cover skills. He’s already hauled in one interception — and even taken it back for a touchdown — in 2012, which only further solidifies his place among the elite defensive play-makers in the NFL, but he still has difficulties in man-to-man coverage. While he is known to force turnovers and make the big play, Cromartie struggles with quick receivers and often finds smaller speedsters blowing by him — something on full display as the Steelers’ Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace lit him up in Week 2.
Wilson, on the other hand, still hasn’t emerged as a legitimate cover corner since being drafted 29th overall in 2010. The 25-year-old seems to be best suited for the slot rather than being overwhelmed, which has been a theme time and again, with the pressure of containing receivers on the outside. He’s shown promise as a Pro Bowl level corner at times over the past three seasons, especially when working on the inside, but he still isn’t ready to fill in on the outside full-time.
The loss of a four-time Pro Bowler and arguably the best cornerback in all of football is going to sting. But given the Jets’ inability to fill Revis’ void on defense, as well as their offensive struggles with Mark Sanchez, this season could also be a wash.
The Jets got a firsthand look at the quality of their defense without Revis when Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers tore up the New York secondary in Week 2. Roethlisberger sliced his way through a Revis-less defense, completing 24 of 31 passes for 275 yards and a touchdown. Now, those numbers alone aren’t all that eye-popping, but Revis’ absence was noticeable on the outside. The duo of Brown and Wallace combined for 12 catches and 158 yards against the pairing of Cromartie and Wilson, exploiting a glaring weakness in New York’s defense.
Now, with Revis done for the season, the Jets will be susceptible to similar performances from opposing quarterbacks. And without an elite signal-caller of their own, Gang Green won’t be able to keep up with some of the high-octane passing attacks around the league.
New York has plenty of football left this season. Santonio Holmes‘ reemergence as a No. 1 receiver as well as Bart Scott reasserting his presence on defense are encouraging signs for a Jets team seeking a postseason return. But while the playoffs remain a viable option for this team, without Revis, any Super Bowl dreams are all but washed away.