Lovie Smith has been hired as the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and there’s a faction of analysts who somehow believe that Smith is going to force his scheme down the throats of the Buccaneers defense. There are people who legitimately believe that Smith is going to run nothing but the Tampa 2 and cut ties with Darrelle Revis because Revis’s large salary isn’t worth that of a simple Tampa 2 corner. This is horse excrement in its most disgusting form, and I will be prepared to eat it if it actually materializes.
First of all, Smith isn’t going to run your typical Tampa 2-style plays on every single play, and I’m sure a coach as smart and experienced as him isn’t going to force Revis to play in zone all the time. I mean, he’s no Greg Schiano. Secondly, no head coach in their right mind would cut ties with arguably the best player they are inheriting on account of “scheme”, because Smith would only hurt his chances of success with the Buccaneers. Coaches don’t want to get rid of star players, because that means they’ll get fired.
I’m sure Smith recognizes that Revis is an elite corner who can completely take away an opponent’s top receiver out of the game, and he knows that everyone else’s job is going to be easier when Revis does that. He’s going to instill his defensive philosophy and add players who fit his scheme, but he isn’t going to drive out current stars because they aren’t Tampa 2-tailored. That’s not how the NFL works, and those types of coaches get weeded out quickly. Do you really think the Buccaneers would hire Smith if his goal was to completely turn the Bucs upside-down schematically and not use star players correctly? Or even get rid of them? Do you think the Buccaneers wanted to hire another my-way-or-the-highway Schiano character?
Obviously not, and the speculation that Revis is going away is utterly baseless. I mean, it’s legitimately based on simple speculation that only a pure salary-cap dolt like Mike Tannenbaum would buy into, and Smith isn’t a cheapskate dolt; he’s an experienced football coach. He also knows from his time with the Chicago Bears that you can’t run the Tampa 2 on every single play in this day and age, and I highly doubt he even runs the classic Tampa 2. If I were a betting man, I would bet that he would run a hybrid Tampa 2 scheme that is better against new-age offenses that spread the field horizontally more. You don’t think a shutdown corner can help in that regard? You don’t think Revis can make Smith’s job easier?
The notion that Darrelle Revis costs too much is also unfounded, because he’s worth the $14.5 million he’s making each year. That’s the kind of money elite cover corners deserve to make, and Revis is elite in every sense of the word. Don’t believe me? Chew on these numbers. According to the Pro Football Focus, he allowed just 54% of all passes in his coverage to be completed, and he had the 15th-highest Stop% in run defense. More importantly, PFF states that he allowed the least yards per snap in coverage, and only Richard Sherman allowed less receptions for every snap in coverage.
That’s as elite as it gets, and Revis is still going strong. He can also succeed in zone coverage (even though most people know Smith likes running man coverage more often), because most of those shutdown stats were accrued in zone. But it’s much better to use Revis in man, because he can take away an entire player, and that has a huge domino effect on the rest of the defense. Just ask Mike Pettine, who basically built his defense around Revis’s shutdown ability as defensive coordinator of the New York Jets.
Added to the baseless speculation that Revis could be a cap casualty is the notion that the Buccaneers will replace him with Charles Tillman, who was a staple in Smith’s defenses back when he was with the Bears. If the Bucs and Smith want Tillman and Tillman wants to play for Smith, then they won’t have to get rid of Revis to pick up Tillman. Not only could they use more talent at corner, but they could still afford to sign Tillman, who probably would be amicable to a pay cut to play for the Buccaneers.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Tillman isn’t nearly as good as Revis is. While he’s a great corner in his own right, he isn’t getting any younger and isn’t going to be a true shutdown corner for much longer. You can’t take his performance this season at face value since he was playing for an injury, but I’m a bit iffy on his chances of playing as mind-blowingly good as he did in 2012. Tillman is a great corner, but the Buccaneers aren’t going to put all their eggs in his basket and get rid of a player as good as Revis. Teams don’t operate on those “What Ifs”, especially since I highly doubt the Bears don’t keep Tillman.
So do you really think Revis is going anywhere? I doubt most people actually buy the line of thinking that states Smith is stupid and stubborn and will get rid of Revis just to get his “guy” and run his scheme, but I wanted to try to put the argument to rest.