Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis is a once-in-a-generation athlete whose skill and competitive fire are unmatched by most NFL players. But how exactly do you coach greatness? Newsday's Kimberley A. Martin talked with defensive backs coach Joe Danna and assistant defensive backs coach Daylon McCutcheon to find out what makes Revis one of the best.
Newsday: Is Darrelle Revis the best cornerback in the league?
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Danna: "I'll leave that up to you to decide all that. We're happy we've got him. We think he's a great player and we think he can help us win a lot of games.''
McCutcheon: "I have a lot of trust in him, I have a lot of faith in him. I believe he can match up with pretty much anyone out there. So as long as we have that confidence in him, I'm comfortable with him out there on anyone.''
Newsday: Is there anything that surprises you about him?
Danna: "He's very humble. For a guy that's had a lot of success, he's still willing to learn, still wants to work at his craft to get better. Really a great guy to be around.''
McCutcheon: "I was actually very surprised at how open he is to learning more. Sometimes you come around guys like that and it's like, they have all the answers already. He's far from that.''
Newsday: Obviously, you can't coach Revis the same way you coach a younger guy like Dee Milliner or Darrin Walls. So how do you coach someone at that level?
McCutcheon: "Every corner or every player has a different toolbox. And I think with him, because of his athletic ability and because of the success he's had, he has more tools in his toolbox . . . As a coach, you can remind him about the tools that he has. Every corner doesn't have the hammer. But he has the hammer, the wrench, the screwdriver. He has enough different tools, whereas with another guy, you might not be able to suggest certain things to him because he doesn't have those tools.''
Newsday: Revis is ultra-competitive, even in practice. But there's a little something extra when he goes up against Brandon Marshall . . .
Danna: "That's where you see his competitive juices and fire come out. A lot of things come easy to him, but when it comes to Brandon, you see a heightened intensity . . . He does not like to lose. But he's not new to the game, so he understands how to deal with anything that comes his way.''
Newsday: Do you guys view him as another coach on the sideline?
Danna: "He's a great teammate. Like I said, one of the things that's impressed me about him is he's very humble and he's very open to people and he's a real easy-to-talk-to person. Guys like him; obviously, they gravitate to him. So they're picking his brain, seeing how to do things better and he's open to helping anybody."
Newsday: So what can a six-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro pick and Super Bowl champion improve upon?
McCutcheon: "For any corner, not just him, I think it's about consistency. So just going out there and trying to play steady all the time. When you play defensive back, it's about never being too high or too low . . . And that's what made him so good throughout the years. He's been consistent at a high level.''
Newsday: Any concerns about his surgically repaired knee?
Danna: "We don't see any signs where he is slowing down. He's full speed ahead. I love where he's at, love his movement. And just looking forward to a good year from him.''
Newsday: Why does Revis sometimes shy away from discussing how good he is or comparisons between him and other cornerbacks, like Richard Sherman?
McCutcheon: "There's some people that are to that one extreme. Like you could have a Deion [Sanders], who's going to tell everybody, 'I'm the best' and he wants all the spotlight on him. And I think there are other guys that are just about letting their play speak for itself. And I think he's just one of those guys. It's all going to show. You don't have to talk about it.''
Newsday: How much easier is it to do your job when you have someone like Revis in your secondary?
Danna: "He can do things on the football field that, maybe, you don't have to coach. He's very instinctual. Playing the position comes naturally to him. And he does things that, I'm sure at this point, he doesn't even think about it anymore. It's muscle memory. It's great for us as coaches because it provides a great example on film to show young guys.''
Newsday: Do you marvel at what he can do?
McCutcheon: "Yeah, sometimes . . . I understand how hard it is to play that position, so I see the great instincts that he has and just the confidence that he plays with and the things that he's able to do. Those things are special. A lot of them, you can't learn those. You're born with it.''
Danna: "Absolutely . . . Especially for a guy that's played as long as he's played, that's hard to do. And it's hard to maintain that level for that period of time. It's fun to be around. I'm glad to be a part of it.''