‘From the Pressbox’
By Ernie Palladino
» More Ernie Palladino Columns
Ernie is the author of “Lombardi and Landry.” He’ll be covering football throughout the season.
The other day, wide receiver Victor Cruz was musing — well, actually popping off — in the Giants locker room about a particular Jets cornerback.
“Yeah, teams aren’t scared anymore,” Cruz said. “He’s had to earn his money this year and teams aren’t backing down.”
Cruz was talking about none other than Darrelle Revis, who despite some issues this year remains one of the league’s rarities: a so-called cover corner who can actually cover. And when Revis goes to work in earnest, no pass-catcher is a match.
This is why firing back at a trash-talking team can get you in more trouble than it’s worth. Insulting arguably the best cornerback in the NFL will only increase his motivation, thereby making him more dangerous than he already is.
And Revis appeared well on the way to rising up once again and spoiling somebody’s party.
“I don’t even know who this guy is,” Revis said Thursday. “Whoever said what, I’m not entertaining it. If I want entertainment, I’d look to a reality show or something. Watch TV.”
Revis said he only heard of Cruz from the preseason, which is probably bending the truth a little since Cruz has become one of the league’s most exciting surprises this year.
But here’s the point. It’s simply not wise to tick off a guy like Revis. Despite his problems this year — quarterbacks are, indeed, throwing at him, and he did get out of the way of a running Tim Tebow before the 236-pound quarterback bulldozed him on that key first-down run on the final, winning touchdown drive — one should never assume that Revis has turned vulnerable.
For the most part, he’s been a shutdown cornerback. Antonio Cromartie may be a different story on the other side, but on Revis’ side of the field, he’s generally deadly.
Which is why quarterbacks haven’t thrown at him until recently. And even then, they take their games in their hands. He’s got four interceptions this year, one run back for a touchdown. All that with almost no help from the safeties and a steady diet of top-notch receivers.
No wonder Rex Ryan jumped to his defense.
“The list (of players to criticize) would be a lot longer before I got to Revis,” he said. “But you know what? That’s a competitor. You want to face the best, and you’re certainly going to face the best when you face Darrelle Revis.”
No. 24, in fact, may be the guy who turns Saturday’s game in favor of the Jets. Let the front seven put some heat on Eli Manning, and the quarterback might just float one out to Hakeem Nicks. Anything less than a perfect throw would likely either wind up in Revis’ hands, or be batted away by the breakup artist.
Then again, the Giants might be entranced by the Eagles’ outing against him last week. DeSean Jackson hit him a couple of times for 28 yards, and he had just three tackles. But Jackson can burn anybody, anytime.
So can Nicks and Cruz. But if either is matched up against Revis, the odds of that happening fall significantly.
Manning would be better off working the other side of the field, or the middle against safeties Brodney Pool and either hobbled Eric Smith or his backup Tracy Wilson.
Better yet, his receivers might want to be very, very quiet once they hit the MetLife turf.
No sense in further upsetting things on Revis Island.
Will Revis make the Giants pay on Saturday? Sound off below…