By Kristian Dyer
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It may be the first time in Darrelle Revis’ NFL career that he is eyeing redemption, but it could very well set the tone for a season in which simply being himself won’t be enough.
Redemption and Revis are two words that are rarely linked together. After all, there weren’t too many times that the league’s best cornerback slipped up but last year. Revis had two relatively weak performances against Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson. In their meetings last year, Johnson caught a combined 11 catches for 159 yards and a touchdown, doing what very few wide receivers manage to do. He got the best of Revis –- not just once in a game, but multiple times with big plays. Johnson made Revis look rather average and plebian.
In other words, he made him look like Kyle Wilson. Ouch.
Revis had his chance last year, but twice in a span of three weeks failed to shut down Johnson. After giving up three catches for 84 yards in November, Johnson was open all over the place in late November at MetLife Stadium, hauling in eight catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. The Jets won both games, but Revis was left looking anything but the league’s best cornerback.
There is no better way to start the season for Revis than this game, against this Bills team and against this wide receiver. Given the way that Johnson matched up against him last year, Revis can make the point with his play that he’s every bit the type of player that everyone knows he is, that no one in the league can get the best of him –- not even Johnson.
The Jets need Revis more this year than in years past. Without the brains of the secondary in Jim Leonhard — who was not offered a new contract after consecutive seasons ended early due to knee injuries — Revis will be called upon to step up and play at an even higher level as the Jets try to assimilate Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry in at the safety position. There’s also the added pressure of an offense that scored just one touchdown in preseason, placing a premium on the defense making big plays and limiting the opposition’s ability to score. The margin for error? There is no margin for error on this Jets team.
What this means is that Revis has to be better than last year. It isn’t enough for him to be feared anymore. No, he needs to be downright dominant. Broken-up plays need to become interceptions, interceptions needs to become “pick-sixes” and there can’t be any more afternoons where a Johnson gets the best of Revis.
No one else on this team will be asked to do the same thing, not even the supposed stars that dot the roster. Not quarterback Mark Sanchez, who will be called on to manage the game and limit mistakes. Not running back Shonn Greene, who simply needs to be steady this year. Not even any of the receivers, who just simply need to hold onto the ball. And no one else on defense will be asked to do the extraordinary.
Just Revis, because he is, truth be told, extraordinary.
He needs to play above himself, which means that he has to be better than the best. It is a tall order for the league’s best defensive player, but the fate of the Jets’ season rests on Revis being better than himself.
Kristian R. Dyer covers the Jets for Metro New York and contributes to Yahoo! Sports as well as WFAN. He can be followed on Twitter here.
Do the Jets have any hope of making the playoffs if Revis doesn’t have a monster season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below…