By Tyson Rauch
Through the first six years of his career, cornerback Darrelle Revis emerged as one of the best defensive players in the National Football League as a member of the New York Jets. Darrelle played at such a high level that fans coined his playing area as “Revis Island” out of respect for his ability to isolate and shut down the opposition’s best wide receiver. This past offseason Darrelle Revis was traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the Jets could no longer deal with the defensive back’s pricey contract demands. On Sunday, Revis will debut his “new island” against Gang Green at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET) in a match-up that has television drama written all over it.
Tampa Bay’s Off Season Investments
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kickoff the 2013 season as a team with something to prove as the organization spent a substantial amount of money to add explosive playmakers on both sides of the ball.
The offense is built around running back Doug Martin who is coming off an excellent rookie season where he tallied 1,454 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
The passing game is spearheaded by wide receiver Vincent Jackson (72 catches, 1,384 receiving yards, eight TDs in 2012) who has the size and speed to dominate in the secondary.
The biggest question for the Buccaneers is at quarterback where Josh Freeman is still trying to become a more consistent and efficient signal caller. Freeman has all of the tools needed to be a successful quarterback but continues to struggle with turnovers and decision-making.
The key for the Jets defense will be to shut down Doug Martin in order to put a ton of pressure on Freeman to make plays in the passing game. One of the key match-ups to keep an eye on will be Vincent Jackson and Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
Building On An Already Stellar Defense
On defense the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are trying to upgrade their pass defense to match their stout run defense, which ranked first in 2012. In addition to Darrelle Revis the Bucs also added Pro-Bowl safety Dashon Goldson, which should bring some stability to a much-maligned defensive backfield. Tampa Bay is hoping that improved play in the secondary will help the defense generate some type of pass rush which has been lacking the last couple of years (only 27 sacks in 2012).
On paper the New York Jets offense is just what the doctor ordered for Tampa Bay as Gang Green will more than likely try to establish their running game in order to protect rookie quarterback Geno Smith, who is in line to be the starter if Mark Sanchez is unable to play due to injury.
If the Bucs can slow down the Jets running game they can then attack a rookie quarterback who will be making his NFL debut. Smith could face some serious challenges as the Jets wide receiver group is relatively young and inexperienced. Santonio Holmes’ status remains uncertain for Sunday, which means that Darrelle Revis could really wreak some havoc on the Jets receiver group. If Revis has a big game against his former team, MetLife Stadium could turn into an ugly environment for the New York Jets.
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