Darrelle Revis has finally explained why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven't played him in press coverage more. First, Revis said on 620 WDAE that he didn't feel comfortable playing press coverage on every snap for the first six games of the season (via JoeBucsFan). Today he reiterated that to the press, noting that he was still getting stronger.
Of course, press coverage is not the same as man coverage, and certainly isn't the same as asking Revis to play man coverage without safety help. There's little evidence of his lack of explosion on tape, but confidence is about as important as the physical reality of your body, especially when it comes to cornerback play. Still, it's a little curious that not being able to play true man coverage on every play turned to "let's just ask him to do that on two snaps in a game" for the Bucs.
Greg Schiano's comments on the matter are interesting, too. He noted that they gave him latitude as to the exact technique to be used, but it doesn't seem that the Bucs actually adjusted their coverage calls to Revis' responses. In other words: they'd call the coverage, and Revis would decide whether playing from a press position or an off position made more sense.
Regardless, Darrelle Revis looked like his good old self again for most of the game against the Carolina Panthers. Then again, he's looked like his old self throughout this season, too. The Carolina Panthers threw at him twice in the game, both of which resulted in basically identical plays.
Watching Revis play press-man coverage is just really impressive. Notice the little hold to keep contact and get him in position in the next GIF. That's all part of the game, and knowing when you can get away with a hold is a big part of a good cornerback's repertoire.
Both of those plays are shockingly similar to plays Revis made in game one against the New York Jets. Aside from these two plays, the Panthers completely stayed away from Darrelle Revis. All but one of Steve Smith's catches came against zone coverage, and the one time they targeted him in man coverage was when Johnthan Banks was on him.
So, Revis hasn't been fully healthy yet and that's why he hasn't played much press coverage. Of course, is that why he hasn't played man coverage either, which is a different beast? You can play off-man coverage, after all, and that's what he has done. And he has held up when threatened vertically. In fact there was all of one big catch I can remember him giving up in man coverage: Larry Fitzgerald's touchdown.
So far, teams have simply steered away from Darrelle Revis. They haven't even tried to attack him. So mayhaps the Bucs have been a little over-cautious. It's a long way from asking him to play man coverage on two snaps in a game to asking him to do it on every snap. Why haven't the Bucs found a happy medium? Why haven't they helped struggling Johnthan Banks and Leonard Johnson more?
Well, those points are moot. The question is whether the Bucs are going to change going forward. So far, what they've done hasn't worked. And if they want to salvage anything from this season, they'd better start implementing change that works, soon.