Sunday against San Francisco at MetLife Stadium marks the first game of the rest of the Jets’ season without All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. Given the fact Revis is the face of the franchise and the pillar on which coach Rex Ryan’s defense was built, the Jets, their coaches and their fans all are experiencing some high anxiety about what his loss means.
As defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman sees it, everyone needs to dial it down, step back from the ledge and face the future in a practical way. How do the Jets compensate for Revis? “You don’t,” Thurman said simply on Friday. “The reality of it is he’s not going to be here, so, we have to step up…Will he be missed? Yes, but the group has to compensate for it.
“We’ve tweaked some things because we have to. We feel confident going into this game, so, unless they’ve moved the stadium, we’re walking into it.”
Third-year corner Kyle Wilson takes over Revis’ spot, but Thurman said Antonio Cromartie “is our new lead corner.” Thurman said Ellis Lankster will have a larger role, but he declined to say whether Wilson (pictured No. 20 with Revis No. 24) will remain on the outside in all situations or move to his role covering the slot receiver with Lankster on the outside in nickel packages.
He said the Jets will rely more on safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, and those two and backup Eric Smith all indicated the Jets might use a package with three safeties on the field more often, especially against a run-oriented team like the 49ers and running back Frank Gore.
“We have some stuff we’re pretty excited about,” Bell said. “I don’t know if we’ll switch up to that. It will strictly be on the coaches, but we’ve got packages with the three of us in the rotation.”
The big difference without Revis is that the Jets could use him to take the opponent’s best receiver out of the game. In essence, they could allow Revis to cover his side of the field, and the safeties could “cheat” toward other receivers to provide help.
“We just can’t single up that side like we used to do Darrelle,” Bell said. “But for the most part, the defense is the same. We just can’t do some of the ‘helping off’ that side that we used to do. The safety was supposed to play outside anyway, but with Revis, you could do special things. He’s a special player. So, it’s back to pretty much playing normal.”
Losing a cornerback isn’t quite as devastating as losing a starting quarterback, but Revis certainly dominated the thoughts of every offensive coordinator the Jets faced. So, who can blame the Jets if something bordering on panic set in when he went down.
“The first thing that most people do is they get emotional,” Thurman said. “You can’t get emotional. It’s part of the game. Great players get injured, and if you’re overly emotional about it, then you won’t prepare yourself the right way and you won’t get your players prepared to play.
“As far as I know, commissioner [Roger] Goodell hasn’t said, ‘Okay, the Jets aren’t playing because Revis is not here.’ You’ve got to go play, and that’s just the reality of it.”