For those who believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching staff is misusing cornerback Darrelle Revis by putting him in more zone coverage versus playing man-to-man, defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan had a special message Thursday.
“What I want to invite them to do is join us. I get here about 5:20 [a.m.] every single morning, and they’re more than welcome to hang around here until about 11:00 [p.m.] for the first four nights of the week and they can help us put the whole game plan together.”
“We’ve got all the free cokes you want in the building and we’ll be happy to take those suggestions on how we can better use Darrelle. Trust me when I tell you we painstakingly game plan how best to use all of our personnel not just Darrelle.”
But it’s not just fans who are questioning the Bucs defense. The experts are too. Deion Sanders, arguably the best cornerback to ever play the game, has stated the Bucs are completely misusing Revis. Ron Jaworski, one of the most avid tape-watchers among those who cover the NFL, took it a step further with some numbers.
“Last week vs. the Eagles, Revis was given help on 20 of the Eagles 32 pass plays (62.5%), with only being singled up in man coverage on 12 snaps in the game (only 2 of those plays was he on “Revis Island” by himself) – this style of defense is not a good fit for the best cover CB in the NFL with the high majority of zone coverage schemes they play with.”
Jaws added, “Tampa Bay’s Defense has not maximized their potential with improperly using their personnel with the schemes they run, starting with the use of lockdown CB, Darrelle Revis who is unable to use his excellent coverage skills to take away an opposing offenses best receiving option.”
To be fair, Sheridan incorporates a number of coverages, mixing in zone with man-to-man, and playing a combination coverage, like quarter-quarter-half where a cornerback (Jonathan Banks) and safety (Dashon Goldson) get one-half of the field, split into quarters, while another defensive back gets half the field (this was Ahmad Black’s role when he was with the team…I did not see if Barron moved into this role Sunday against the Eagles). Revis then lines up in man coverage.
Head coach Greg Schiano alluded to this style of combination coverage earlier this week saying, “He is being used, often times, in man-to-man coverage. Whether the whole coverage is man-to-man or just him taking a guy out of the play man-to-man, most fans won’t be able to figure that out by watching it.”
So while the other defensive backs are essentially showing more of a zone look, Revis is somewhat manning the opponent’s No. 1 receiver. (Note: Fran Duffy of Eagles.com wrote about how the Bucs play quarter-quarter-half coverage last week. It’s worth checking out if you want to know more)
“We position [Revis] in a way he plays a lot of one-on-one coverage and again we give him flexibility because of his experience, just like we do [safety] Dashon [Goldson], there’s flexibility there because these guys are experienced players,” Schiano added.
While quarter-quarter-half coverage is just one wrinkle, it demonstrates how defensive schemes aren’t always purely black and white. It’s not a mind-blowing concept either, one that Sheridan or Schiano could have taken about ten extra seconds to explain to fans. It could have probably taken some of the heat off of them in the process.