There has been a lot of focus this week on the potential Wes Welker-Darrelle Revis matchup Sunday when the Patriots host the Jets. There are plenty of good reasons to focus on this matchup. Darrelle Revis is the the owner and operator of Revis Island, and no wide receivers escape this place. Revis is the definition of a shutdown corner. Wes Welker, now far removed from the knee injury that slowed him down last season, is on a tear. Through four games, he has 40 catches for 616 yards and 5 touchdowns. He’s on a pace to break several single season receiving records, and he is clearly Tom Brady’s go-to guy.
While this one-on-one match is surely appealing from a players and a fantasy football perspective, football is a team sport. The true focus should be elsewhere when determining how this game will play out.
Darrelle Revis and Wes Welker will each have their share of wins and losses against each other. What the Patriots were missing during the playoff loss to the Jets last January (aside from a strong defense) was the fact that other players did not step up. The offensive line needs to protect better. The receivers on the outside not covered by Revis, should he move outside from the slot against Welker, need to win THEIR matchups. The running game needs to be a larger part of the game plan, and it needs to be successful. The Patriots’ two young, dynamic tight ends need to make the plays in the middle of the field if Welker can’t. Aaron Hernandez should play tomorrow (he’s listed as Questionable), and he needs to do better than he did in the playoff game when he made one catch for 4 yards.
The Jets didn’t allow the receivers to get a free release off the line and then used a lot of zone coverage mixed with man and pressure. It’s everybody not named Wes Welker that needs to win on Sunday. If Welker draws Revis all game, I consider that a win for the Patriots because Hernandez, Gronkowski, and Branch should be able to win their matchups. And if Revis has to move off of Welker, watch out. Sorry to disappoint all of the experts who have spent tons of time writing and talking about Welker-Revis. The key Sunday is what everybody not named Darrelle Revis and Wes Welker does.