ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — So much for Revis Island.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, once considered the finest cover corner in pro football and a defender who regularly shut down the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver, suffered his latest in a series of unimpressive performances in Sunday’s 22-17 loss to the Bills. But this one was even more disconcerting than the others. Revis allowed Buffalo receiver Sammy Watkins to have his way all afternoon.
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“I know is going to be a future Hall of Famer, but the coaches did a great job of putting me in the right situations with the right coverage and helping me out all week with identifying coverages and what he does well,” said Watkins, who finished with 11 catches for 136 yards. “They put me in position to make the best plays.”
Bills coach Rex Ryan knows Revis as well as anyone, so it’s no wonder he had a few tricks up his sleeve for Watkins.
Even so, the 30-year-old Revis, who is in the first year of a five-year, $70-million deal ($39 million is guaranteed), looked shakier than he ever had this season.
This after a Super Bowl run with the Patriots last year in which coach Bill Belichick often matched up Revis against the opposition’s No. 2 receiver and had the No. 1 receiver double-teamed.
“I thought it was a great matchup,” Ryan said of Revis vs. Watkins. “Once of those classic ones. You got, in my opinion, this young man is one of the best receivers in football. We knew it was gonna be a battle. I think Revis knows this kid’s got elite speed.”
Ryan correctly theorized that Revis would give Watkins plenty of cushion, unlike the cornerback’s previous preference of playing tight bump-and-run coverage.
Why stay off the line against Watkins?
“Revis was not gonna get beat on top,” Ryan said of the Jets’ concern that he might be susceptible to the deep pass. “So I thought we had a chance to throw the ball underneath a few times, and we did.”
What did Revis think of his matchup against Watkins? Who knows? After the game, he showered, changed into street clothes and declined to speak with reporters.
Jets coach Todd Bowles defended Revis.
“A lot of those [Watkins catches] were zone,” Bowles said. “You can’t read a game plan from man-to-man every play. We had some things called and some people underneath. You can’t blame that all on Darrelle.”
The Jets invested heavily in the secondary during the offseason, throwing millions at Revis, cornerbacks Buster Skrine and Antonio Cromartie and safety Marcus Gilchrist. But they had trouble containing Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who went 18-for-28 for 182 yards and didn’t have an interception.
Watkins was his primary target (15 of Taylor’s passes went his way), but former Jets receiver Greg Salas added three catches for 41 yards.
“Just going off film, seeing what routes have problem with, we were able to scheme them up and hit those routes,” Taylor said.
The quarterback thought Watkins was particularly effective against those schemes.
“He was able to beat the coverage this week,” he said. “He did a good job of getting open and coming to the ball.”