By: Bob George
FOXBOROUGH – Revis Island has arrived in Foxborough. Really. It’s true.
You can be forgiven if you find the sight of Darrelle Revis in a Patriot uniform a bit hard to believe. The former New York Jet, who came to the Patriots this summer from Tampa Bay, was the star of the Patriot OTAs this week. Along with former Seattle Seahawk Brandon Browner, the Patriots may have suddenly gone from one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL to one of the best. Suddenly, if things go as planned, the secondary becomes a strength instead of a weakness.
Of course, there are other things to be keeping your eyes on at the OTAs. Second round pick Jimmy Garoppolo is being scrutinized heavily, though Tom Brady has a pretty good stranglehold on the starting quarterback job. Dominique Easley, the first round pick, is a no-show because he is still recovering from knee injuries. The young receivers from last year, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Josh Boyce are now in a fight to keep their jobs heading into the season.
But all eyes are on the cornerbacks. They are no doubt the rock stars of the OTAs.
That said, here is a quick synopsis on what Patriots Nation can expect with these two distinguished gentlemen.
What’s to like: Quick, name the last time the Patriots went out and signed the best player at his position in the NFL as a free agent. Revis is the best. He can cover any receiver in the NFL. He takes away one half of the field with near certainty. Brady is already sick of throwing towards him in the OTAs. Revis almost singlehandedly put the Jets ahead of the Patriots during his tenure down south on Exit 16W. In Bill Belichick’s two-part docu-drama on the NFL Network’s A Football Life, the loss at Giants Stadium featured an interception by Revis on a deep ball to Randy Moss that the Jets knew was coming, and the Patriots knew not to try but did anyway.
Darrelle Revis was prominent during the Patriot OTAs this week at Gillette Stadium.
(USA TODAY Images)
What’s not to like: First of all, Revis could get hurt. He missed all but two games of his final Jets season two years ago. Worrying about who will get hurt and how badly greatly reduces the quality of lives in general, and is something generally not speculated on (unless the name Danny Amendola comes up in a discussion). But if Revis suffers a debilitating injury, which causes him to miss a significant amount of time, it could have a profound effect on the fortunes of the 2014 Patriots.
Then, of course, there’s the money. Revis is notorious for demanding to have contracts torn up and re-written to make sure he is at the top of the cornerback pay scale. Markets are set all the time, but Revis is the one who either wants to set them or be right there with them and never below them. Revis pulled these stunts several times as a Jet. Revis is working on a one-year, $12 million contract with the Patriots, and there is a widespread belief that Revis will not be here beyond 2014 as he will price himself out of town ife he has a season that is least 80% of his past performances. As long as Revis doesn’t complain about making “only” $12 million this year as a Patriot, times should be good in 2014.
What’s to like: He may not be Richard Sherman, but he’s big and has Sherman’s mentality as his former teammate. Browner will bring a physical edge to the Patriots secondary this fall, which was a trademark of the Seahawks defense, which currently enjoys the moniker of “NFL Champions”. He will also bring Sherman’s attitude, which can and should permeate itself to the rest of the secondary and perhaps the rest of the defense. Browner won’t put up gaudy interception numbers, but the intimidation factor will be a nice compliment to Revis’ cover ability on the other side of the field.
What’s not to like: Wacky tobacky got Browner in a bit of trouble. Legal in Washington state but not allowed in the NFL, marijuana usage got Browner a four game suspension for the beginning of the 2014 season. He will play 12 games and get paid for 8. This sort of thing, albeit for him doing something that is now legal at home, is never a good thing when the word “suspension” is mentioned. The sight of Aaron Hernandez getting arraigned for two more murders should give pause for anyone coming to Foxborough who is anything short of being a Boy Scout. Granted, smoking a bone is not nearly as bad as allegedly blowing away three people, but it is still something that has to be taken into consideration.
Revis and Browner collectively
What’s to like: Belichick has already taught the two how to interview as a Patriot. They gave a lot of non-answers, especially Browner, when asked about how the OTAs were going. They were frequently baited into giving answers which would provide bulletin board fodder or the lead-in on the evening sports news program, but neither player would bite.
What’s not to like: Browner seemed like he wanted to cut loose and speak his mind, and looked uncomfortable in showing restraint. This might mean that down the road, Browner breaks the Belichick code of honor and says something that torques off his new boss. One need only be reminded of Wes Welker’s otherwise benign comments regarding Jets coach Rex Ryan’s foot fetish to be concerned over what Browner might say later on this season if he cannot continually show restraint on what he says. The last thing the Patriots need is for Browner to have to sit out a quarter of a key playoff game or a key December game because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut.
Overall, this is a great thing for the Patriots. Seeing the Flying Elvis on Revis’ blue non-numbered jersey was exceptionally delightful. He looked dreadfully awful in Jets green all those years. If the Patriots can survive the four games Browner has to sit out in September, they will be looking very good down the stretch as they gun for still another divisional title and playoff berth.
But the intent is for the Patriots to get to the Super Bowl, not to just win the division. If they do, it’s a good bet that Revis and Browner will be a major reason why.