Monday’s game featured a quality match-up between two of the top athletes at their positions, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall and New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. Marshall and Revis faced each other multiple times throughout the contest, with the Dolphins testing Revis more than any other team this season. Quarterback Matt Moore threw the ball 14 times in the direction of Revis, which was more than a third of the targets Revis had seen through five weeks.
He gave up five completions, so was Revis Island finally invaded? And what can we learn going forward from Marshall’s approach to Revis?
The way the game started, it looked like there might be an invasion of Revis Island by a “beast” called Brandon Marshall. On the Dolphins’ first drive of the game, Revis was beaten on a slant by Marshall for eight yards. In the pre-snap phase, Revis was aligned inside of Marshall, and there are two things to note. Marshall is aligned outside the numbers on this play, and when a wide receiver aligns outside the numbers, he’s likely running an inside-breaking route. Meanwhile, Revis is aligned inside of Marshall, which shows that it could be man coverage.
At the snap of the ball, Marshall takes one step, gets his hands on Revis and drives him outside before breaking back inside to get free for the slant. When Marshall took Revis outside and then cut it back inside, he left Revis a couple of steps behind him and gained eight yards because Revis was being overly aggressive to the outside set-up. However, despite getting beat inside Revis is in trail position and ends up making the tackle despite not getting any help over the middle.
Later in the game, the Dolphins looked to go to this again but on the other side of the field. Marshall is once again aligned outside the numbers, but Revis is shaded outside of Marshall.
At the snap of the ball, Marshall again goes outside while getting his hands on Revis before attempting to break inside for the slant. However, Revis makes an adjustment by not getting his hips turned completely outside–unlike the first time–and taking away the inside release. He is able to beat Marshall inside for the slant, and shows his explosiveness once he plants and drives. Making adjustments is one of the strong suits of Revis’ game, which is why he’s one of the best at his position.
One of Revis’ strongest traits is his ability to mirror the opponent. By mirroring the opponent, he is step-for-step with him and is in-phase, which is an integral part of being a successful cornerback. In-phase is defined by Nick Saban as being ” pretty much even with the guy [as he runs straight downfield], but if you can see the guy’s number nearest [to] you, you’re in-phase when you’re covering him down the field.”
At the snap of the ball, Revis once again is physical with Marshall and does a good job of jamming him before he releases into his route. Revis extends his arms, locks his elbows, and is able to ride Marshall. Once Marshall releases down the field Revis is with him every step of the way.
Revis gets his inside arm between Marshall and the ball, which is often taught by coaches. This allows him to break up the pass.
Revis’ ability to make adjustments in-game, as well as mirror the opponent and use great technique helps make him arguably the best cornerback in the NFL.
This week Revis will again have his hands full when he goes up against Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Jackson has been nursing a hamstring injury, but he practiced on Wednesday and should be available for the game. He’ll test Revis deep, as Jackson is averaging nearly 18 yards per reception. He has more potential to attack down the field than Marshall because of his superior foot speed.
Jackson isn’t as quick short in areas as Marshall, but his aforementioned ability down field is much better. However, I expect Revis’ abilities to match up well with Jackson’s strengths, but he should be prepared because Norv Turner doesn’t shy away from throwing the deep ball, especially to Jackson.