Darrelle Revis hates Greg Schiano's scheme, Darrelle Revis says he loves being a Buccaneer. Another day in this drama-filled Tampa Bay season. Darrelle Revis and Greg Schiano supposedly met to clear the air and that should signal the end to that particular bit of drama -- but they won't put to rest the complaints everyone else has about the Bucs' scheme.
Regardless of whether or not Revis is happy with how he's being used, the coaches should not be happy with how they are using them. When the Buccaneers traded for Darrelle Revis I cautiously applauded the move. Revis is the only defensive player in the NFL who has the ability to completely transform your defense on his own -- if he's used to his full ability.
If Revis is allowed to shut down one wide receiver with no safety help, that frees up that safety to help elsewhere. That simple formula gave Rex Ryan the best defense in the NFL for three years on end. Right now, though, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not doing that.
For the season, Revis has played man coverage(qualifying under PSR criteria) 31 times, while failing to cover just three routes.— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) September 19, 2013
Revis has played 123 defensive snaps in total (and 11 special teams snaps -- why?), so that's Revis being used in man coverage on just 25% of his snaps. And even when he is being used in man coverage, he very often has a safety shaded to his side of the field.
If Revis is unhappy with the way he's being used, I can certainly see why. Two plays against the New Orleans Saints demonstrated this perfectly.
Jimmy Graham for 29 yards
Cian Fahey broke down this play for Football Outsiders, along with the touchdown to Jimmy Graham on Mark Barron. Fahey does a great job breaking down film and had an outstanding series on NFL cornerbacks on his own blog this year -- but I don't think he gets these plays exactly right.
I also don't agree with his assessment that Goldson is not a good free safety and got exposed in the playoffs in that role -- to me he looked very good there, but just struggled in man coverage against athletic tight ends. Which makes it a little odd that he saw a lot of Jimmy Graham in man coverage against the Saints.
Regardless, Fahey's analysis is still very good -- but where he places the blame on the free safety (Mark Barron in this case), I would much sooner place the blame on the coaches, who seem to want to protect Revis rather than let him do what he does best.
According to Cian Fahey, the Buccaneers didn't ask Barron to shade to Revis' side, but I disagree. I don't think that was Barron freelancing. To me, it looked like Barron was shaded to that side, and his movement almost immediately after the snap seem to signify that he was not reacting to Brees. The endzone view fairly clearly shows that Barron was shaded to Revis' side at the snap, too.
If Barron was reacting to Brees, that was just bad scouting and bad coaching: Brees very often tries to move safeties with his eyes and then resets to exploit the other side of the field.
With Barron to Revis' side, Drew Brees can turn and hit Jimmy Graham on the seam route, who has handily beaten Dashon Goldson. The only reason this isn't a touchdown is that Graham gets tackled at the one-yard line. The Buccaneers ultimately hold the Saints to 0 points with an epic goal-line stand, but this was a really bad play for the defense.
Now, I don't like Dashon Goldson in man coverage on tight ends and I do like Mark Barron there. I think the results of the game showed that clearly, with Barron knocking down to third-down passes intended for Graham, while Goldson allowed three big plays including one on the final drive of the game.
But the biggest issue here is that the coaches are shading Mark Barron over Darrelle Revis, with the cornerback isolated to that side. Even if Barron is reacting to Brees' eyes, which I don't hink he is, the coaches should have made it pretty clear that he could just ignore that side if Revis is isolated to it. But he's shaded to that side at the snap, and then moves farther to that side as the play unfolds.
This big play would have had no shot of happening if Barron had been shaded to the other side of the formation. None. And that was routinely how Rex Ryan used Revis in New York with absolutely stellar results. Revis is a great player, but he is not worth $16 million and two high draft picks if and only if you use him to change your defense.
Drew Brees sacked for -8 yards
I'm going to complain about a sack? What kind of Debbie Downer am I? Well, it's another good example of what I've been talking about: Darrelle Revis not being used to his full ability -- even though the play design as a whole was very good and even worked (shocking, right?).
Let's start with the pre-snap alignment. Important note: it's first down in the fourth quarter, and the Saints are trailing by one point.
Hey, that looks a lot like Cover 2 zone! And indeed, the Buccaneers played a ton of Cover 2 zone against Drew Brees. Which, again, is a misuse of Darrelle Revis' talents. He's a very good zone corner -- but that's not why you're paying him $16 million per year. Fortunately, that's not how this play is stupid. It's stupid in a very different way.
Whoa, those are a lot of arrows and stuff. Okay, a quick explanation: black is the Saints' routes, yellow the coverage responsibilities, and red the pass rushing lanes. I just wanted to give you a good overview of the play and what's happening here. Now, Darrelle Revis is to the top of the screen, and he's aligned on Marques Colston. That's good! Best cornerback on best receiver!
At the snap, though, Mark Barron is going to blitz from his deep position and Dashon Goldson is going to remain the deep safety -- shaded to Revis' side of the field. Quick quiz: who would you help more, Leonard Johnson on Robert Meachem, who has lost all the speed he once had, or Johnthan Banks on Jimmy Graham, who has been destroying you all game long?
Yeah, that shouldn't be a difficult answer. But it was for Greg Schiano and Bill Sheridan, who instead rush Mark Barron. Now, that blitz is genius -- Daniel Te'o-Nesheim takes the running back dropping into the flat with Mason Foster helping out, and Lavonte David blitzes to occupy the other back, who stays in to block.
Note how because of Te'o-Nesheim dropping with the back and the center helping out the right guard, there are now three players blocking Akeem Spence -- the worst pass rusher on the defensive line. Lavonte David is creating a rushing lane for Mark Barron by occupying the back, and Brees doesn't see Barron coming due to the great pre-snap disguise.
This blitz is really, really good. It creates an overload, a free rush lane, fools the quarterback with a great pre-snap disguise and gets results with an 8-yard sack. That result disguises a mind-boggling coverage scheme, however, which once again gives help to Darrelle Revis, when the other side has issues. And those issues are fairly big.
"Hi, my name is Jimmy Graham, I am beating you for well over 100 yards and I am wide open."
Why is the safety help to Revis' side, and not to Johnthan Banks' side? Why are the Buccaneers not trusting Revis to shut down his man, when he is excelling at his play so far? The only reason this is a sack and not a huge play is that Brees' first read was to his right, and the Buccaneers did an outstanding job disguising their play before the snap.
Revis is being wasted
These two plays are not exceptions. The Buccaneers routinely played zone coverage, and rarely let Darrelle Revis be Darrelle Revis. Revis Island is clamoring for some inhabitants. Maybe the Buccaneers are just easing back, but Greg Schiano's offseason comments suggest that this is just what the Bucs will do.
That doesn't mean the defense is not working. The defense is playing pretty well and getting good results: two games of holding the opposing offense to 16 points scored is pretty good, especially so when the offense has not helped them in any way. It could just be much, much better.
Earlier this week, Steve White reminded me of a conversation I had with him and Shaun King when the Bucs traded for Revis.
You did not trade two draft picks for a shutdown cornerback to play zone coverage. You did not pay Darrelle Revis $16 million per year to do things any of a dozen free agent cornerbacks could have done. And while the defense is good, it could be dominant if they started using Revis to do what he does: shut down the opposing team's best wide receiver.
More from Bucs Nation:
- The Buccaneers don't trust Josh Freeman to win games
- Daily Bucs Links: Revis denies friction with Schiano
- Buccaneers vs. Patriots Injuries: Gronkowski, Amendola participate on limited basis
- Drew Brees attacks Dashon Goldson, Tom Brady loves him
- Ahmad Black fined $21,000 for hit on Jimmy Graham, Bucs at $208,875 on the season