The League

Michael Kun
Author

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

Revis is the key

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As I have mentioned before in various contributions to The League, I've been a Jets fan since the days of Joe Namath, Emerson Boozer, George Sauer, Matt Snell and Jim Turner.

And as I have also mentioned in various contributions, I worry that the Jets are being over-hyped this pre-season.

Wildly overhyped.

Outrageously overhyped.

Overhyped like the Seattle Mariners were overhyped this year. (Current standings: last place.)

Overhyped like the last Guns N Roses CD. (Chinese Democracy a masterpiece? Um, no.)

Overhyped like the Titanic.

Overhyped like Howard Dean. (Don't remember Howard Dean? Well, I just made my point.)

Don't get me wrong. On the one hand, I'd love to see the Jets back in the Super Bowl after 40 years. (That's not a typo -- it's been 40 years.) On the other hand, I hate to see everyone's expectations being built up the way they are, where virtually every magazine and website is predicting the Jets will meet the Cowboys in the Super Bowl next February.

Could the Jets go 12-4 and make it to Dallas for the Super Bowl? Sure. But could they go 7-9 and miss the playoffs altogether? Absolutely.

The Jets are no sure thing. They are no powerhouse destined for greatness. Yes, the Jets made it to the AFC title game last year, and they gave the Colts a run for their money. Or, at least, they did so for half the game.

But what virtually everyone tends to forget is how the Jets got to the playoffs in the first place.

They didn't go 12-4.

Or 11-5.

Or 10-6.

They went 9-7. An ugly 9-7. A lucky 9-7 that just barely got them into the playoffs.

Everyone forgets that the Jets were 7-7 and looking at spending the playoffs on their couches -- in fact, coach Rex Ryan even mistakenly announced that they had been eliminated -- until the Colts decided to rest their starters for the penultimate game of the season, and the Bengals did the same the last week.

I'm not saying that the two teams rolled over for the Jets, but it was about as close as you can get to it, and it's a miracle that the teams that got knocked out of the playoffs as a result didn't riot.

Had the Colts run their first string out there -- Petyon Manning instead of Jim Sorgi -- there's every chance the Colts would have won that game. And, even if the Jets had then won the final, meaningless game against the Bengals, they would have finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs.

If that had happened, if the Colts and Bengals hadn't practically rolled over and played dead, would everyone be talking about the Jets making a Super Bowl run this season? Of course not.

They would be talking about what the Jets had to do to get to the playoffs this season. And that's really what the Jets and their fans should be focused on -- getting to the playoffs. And to get to the playoffs, the Jets need their best player on the field -- Darrelle Revis.

Want to know what happens when your best player isn't on the field? Ask the Patriots how they did without Tom Brady. Ask the Bears what it was like playing without Brian Urlacher. (And don't send me a nasty note telling me Urlacher's not the best player on the Bears anymore. My point is the same.)

Darrelle Revis is, arguably, the best defensive player in the league today. And you'd have to make a heck of an argument to convince me someone is better. In fact, he is, arguably, the best player in the league today, offense or defense. And he is, without argument, the best, most important player on the Jets.

The only reason the Jets snuck into the playoffs last year, the only reason they went as far as they did in the playoffs, and the only reason everyone now wrongly expects them to make a Super Bowl run is their defense. They had the best defense in the league last year, statistically speaking (although those stats are suspect when you consider that the last two games, 1/8 of their season for statistical purposes, were played against those Colts and Bengals teams that barely showed up.)

The Jets have many excellent players on defense, but Revis was the linchpin to that defense. No one in their right mind was going to throw on Revis -- no one-- and that allowed every other player on the Jets defense to slip into a well-defined role and focus on that role.

With a league-average defense, the Jets would have been a losing team last year. And that's what the Jets may well be this year if they can't get their best player suited up and on the field.

Without Revis, the Jets could go 5-11 or 6-10. That's how important he is to that team.

Kyle Wilson, the rookie corner out of Boise State, may someday be a good cornerback. He may even be a very good cornerback. But he will never been Darrelle Revis. And, more to the point, he will not be Darrelle Revis this season.

The Jets' opponents have to be licking their chops about the possibility of throwing against the Jets if Revis doesn't show up. Surely, knowing they couldn't throw on Revis, they were already planning to test the Jets new cornerback Antonio Cromartie, particularly (and ironically) after the Jets themselves demonstrated in the playoffs just how to pick on him. Now, if it's Cromartie and Wilson back there instead of Cromartie and Revis . . . shh, can you hear Tom Brady and Randy Moss laughing?

For the Jets to make the playoffs this year -- not the Super Bowl, but the playoffs -- they need Revis.

To make it all the way to the Super Bowl, they need Revis, and they need some luck, and they need more than a few other pieces to fall into place (including significant continued growth from Mark Sanchez, who looked terrible for a substantial part of the 2009 season, which Jets fans tend to forget).

Now, I know Revis signed a contract with the Jets. And I know contracts are supposed to be binding. And I know Revis is not honoring the contract he signed.

We can argue all we want about what it says about someone's ethics or character when he refuses to abide by a contract he signed. Let's save those arguments for another day. Those arguments do not change the fact that Revis is holding out.

They do not change the fact that the Jets -- the wildly overhyped Jets -- have themselves trumpeted their belief that Revis is the best shutdown corner in the league. They have told everyone who will listen that they expect to go to the Super Bowl, riding largely on Revis's shoulders. In so doing, they have given Revis even more leverage than he may have already had if he wanted to hold out for a larger contract. Practically speaking, the only way they're getting Revis on the field now is to renegotiate his contract. Unless and until the Jets get that done, their season is already over. And don't buy it for a second when their owner says that he doesn't believe that Revis will suit up this year.

Yes, we all read those comments in the paper. And we all know that it's posturing. It's a part of the process. And that process should have Revis in uniform in time for the second game of the regular season against the Patriots, if not earlier.

And what if Revis doesn't come back this year?

Sorry, I just heard Brady and Moss laughing again. Only now Chad Henne and Brandon Marshall are joining them. And so are Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne. And Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin. And Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco.

It could be a long year.

By Michael Kun  |  August 11, 2010; 10:55 AM ET  | Category:  Collective Bargaining Agreement , NFL , New York Jets Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Michael...

I think if it were up to Jets fans (http://sportschump.net/2010/08/12/the-sinking-of-revis-island/4252/), Revis'd be signed and in camp already.

But this isn't fantasy football. The NFL doesn't work like that. Now whether ownership is making the right call on Revis remains to be seen.

Apparently they're willing to take that risk.

Posted by: chump | August 12, 2010 3:31 PM

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