So the Patriots have added Darrelle Revis. How will he make them better? Let’s explore a few ways:
They now have a shutdown corner
For several years, Revis put Patriots receivers on “Revis Island” when he was with the Jets. Now New England fans can expect him to be putting Demaryius Thomas, Mike Wallace, Calvin Johnson, and other opposing receivers on a red-white-and-blue-flagged Revis Island when they visit Foxborough. A Pro Bowler five times in seven seasons, Revis will bring along his rare ability to eliminate some of the NFL’s best receivers from their team’s game plan. Revis will be 29 this season, but he is still among the league’s very best cornerbacks. In fact, ProFootballFocus.com ranked him as the league’s best cornerback last season when, according to its analysis, he allowed just 400 receiving yards.
Adds swagger and confidence to the defense
It’s no secret that the Patriots defense has done little to frighten opposing teams in recent years (they’ve been ranked no better than 25th the past four seasons). The unit has been rebuilding and, outside of Vince Wilfork, lacked a consistent playmaker who contributed at a Pro Bowl level and forced other teams to game-plan away from him. Revis is that type of player. He will probably earn a Pro Bowl bid. And teams will have to devise ways to move their offense in a method that avoids challenging him. Not only will opposing play-callers have fewer options because of Revis, he should infuse a new sense of confidence around the Patriots and might teach fellow defenders to expect that their unit can be counted on. And he should have a positive effect on young defensive backs such as Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, and Alfonzo Dennard.
Surely the Patriots’ postseason failures in recent years partially motivated their pursuit of Revis. The memories of damage that Mario Manningham, Anquan Boldin, and Demaryius Thomas did to New England’s Super Bowl dreams in recent years still linger. Revis can go a long way toward neutralizing the potential for a playoff letdown. He has six games of postseason experience with the Jets, but twice lost in the AFC title game. So he, too, will be motivated to succeed on the NFL’s biggest stage.
It’s a dagger for the Jets
Revis was the pride and joy of the Jets — and their fans — in his six years there. At one point, there was talk that he would be a Jet for life. But that marriage fell apart when they dealt him to Tampa Bay last year. And surely, in sending him to Tampa, the Jets must have wanted to keep him as far away from the AFC East (and especially New England) as possible. But now he’s back, and wearing the colors of the Jets’ hated rivals. It will be a bitter pill for Jets fans — who’ve already watched the Patriots march to five straight division crowns — to watch him bolster the résumé of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick next season.
Keeping pace with Broncos
Denver’s addition of Aqib Talib not only bolstered the defense of one of the Patriots’ prime competitors in the AFC, but it also robbed the Patriots secondary of its top performer from last season. So the pressure was on the Patriots not only to match the manpower of the Broncos (which Revis does), but also add a weapon that can help keep Peyton Manning in check (which Revis can do).