Ryan Tannehill's words this week about the teammate that is going to be covered by Darrelle Revis on Sunday show how deep the pool of respect the Miami Dolphins quarterback has for the New England Patriots cornerback.
"Whoever they match him up on is going to have a tough game," Tannehill said, "but they are going to have to find a way to fight and find a way to get open.”
Well, many of us have been thinking the Patriots will match up Revis against deep threat Mike Wallace to stop the possibility of a quick strike over the top of their defense. Then again, maybe he'll be checking Brian Hartline to stop those annoying first down conversions and quick slants.
But the more I think about this, the more I believe it'll be Revis vs. Jarvis Landry.
Obviously Landry is only a rookie and still isn't as established as either Wallace or Hartline. But the strategy makes sense if you understand Patriots coach Bill Belichick tries to take away the opposing team's best weapon to force that team to win doing something else.
Well, Landry is Miami's most efficient pass catcher. He leads the team in catches. He has forged a bond with Tannehill. And despite being a rookie, he sets the tone for that offense in both toughness and persistence with the way he plays, the way he often breaks tackles, the way he makes the difficult catches.
So Revis, New England's best cornerback, on Landry, Miami's most productive receiver, makes sense.
It also makes sense even though Landry is a slot receiver and doesn't normally merit the other team's best corner. Revis, you see, is a very good slot corner when he needs to be. According to ProFootballFocus.com numbers, Revis has 136 snaps in the slot this season. That's less than Patrick Chung and Kyle Arrington. But rarely does a team have their slot receiver mean so much to the offense as Landry does to Miami.
Another thing: When Revis goes into the slot he's a great cornerback that gets better. Again per PFF numbers, Revis allows a completion once every 15.4 coverage snaps at cornerback. But in the slot he allows a completion once every 22.7 coverage snaps.
So what if the Patriots do decide to contain, if not erase, Landry with Revis? What then?
Well, Wallace must step up. Hartline must step up.
The problem is the Patriots know that Wallace wants to step up by blowing the top off the defense and taking one 75 yards to the house. Problem is the Dolphins don't typically have the time to throw those passes that take so long to develop and on the rare occasions they do, Tanenhill has struggled to complete them.
I guess that is one reason putting someone not named Revis on Wallace seems like a logical gamble.
We'll see Sunday.