If you love watching an elite cornerback shadow an elite wide receiver, then you need to tune in to today’s matchup between the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that Bucs sources tell him the Buccaneers will allow elite CB Darrelle Revis to shadow the best wide receiver in the NFL. Yes, Revis will “travel all over the field” in order to cover Calvin Johnson “almost exclusively”.
Normally, the Lions-Buccaneers game wouldn’t be worth watching at all, but watching the league’s best shutdown corner (apologies to Richard Sherman, but you still need to cut down on the number of times you get burned) take on the league’s best receiver makes this tilt worth tuning in to. Revis is now moving into his old role in man coverage where he’s used to take away the opposition’s top player, and, contrary to popular belief, he was actually excellent in zone coverage earlier this season. What separates Revis from other corners in the league is just how little he gets burned. And when QBs forget about how good his ball skills are, he makes them pay.
Revis seems almost super-human at times, because he has covering WRs down pat from a mental standpoint as well. This matchup will put two future Hall of Famers against each other, and a victory by either would enhance their respective legends. Usually elite CBs defeat elite WRs in these mano-a-mano matchups, but Calvin Johnson has proven time-and-time again (including this season) that he can beat those guys one-on-one (only other “outside” receivers I’ve consistently seen do this recently are Randy Moss and Steve Smith, who crushed Richard Sherman and Aqib Talib this year). But can he beat Revis? I can’t wait to find out the answer, especially with both of these guys playing at the top of their games this season.