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Hallelujah! The Patriots have done something for once during free-agency, surprising its fans (at least me) by signing arguably the best corner in the league, Darrelle Revis, to a one-year, $12 million contract. A big free-agent signing has not been made since Randy Moss back in 2007 and the Patriots made us feel as if this opportunity to get the best player in free-agency would slip away. Luckily, this year was different.
The Patriots made their presence felt in free-agency late Wednesday night when they signed Revis to his contract. The signing of Revis will not only drastically improve the Patriots defense but will put the Patriots atop the AFC once again, something that seemed unlikely after the loss of corner Aqib Talib.
Revis is revered among many of his peers as the best shut-down corner in the league, despite being just a season removed from season-ending knee surgery. In his seven seasons in the league, Revis has recorded 21 interceptions along with 108 passes defended. Before the injury, Revis appeared in four consecutive Pro Bowls. His shut down abilities are undeniable and well respected around the league. As a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Revis managed to improve its defense from last to 17th in pass defense in just one season. If he was able to dramatically improve that Bucs team, despite playing on a defense that did not play to his man-to-man abilities, imagine what kind of difference he will make on the Patriots defense, a defense that likes and succeeds in man-to man schemes. Revis will flourish in his role as the Patriots top corner and this success will greatly impact not just the defense but the team as a whole and their playoff and Super Bowl potential.
Upgrade in Corner Position: Not to take anything away from Aqib Talib because he was the best corner since Ty Law but there is no argument the Patriots are upgrading in this position. With Revis, they have a true shut down corner who can play man to man against any elite receiver in the league, eliminating most of the NFL’s receivers from their team’s game plan. Revis effectively replaces Talib’s role on defense and will basically shut down one side of the field on defense game in and game out. Revis has also been able to stay healthy throughout his career, with the exception of his knee injury, but Talib has struggled with chronic injuries that just never seemed to go away. The defense upgraded not just in skill but durability as well.
Provide Defense with Personality: The Patriots defense has been struggling to define themselves as a unit over the past several years and even worse, no other teams feared the defense. Other teams knew our weakness and exploited them on a weekly basis. Pathetically enough, the defense has been unable to rank better than 25th overall for the past four seasons! Hopefully Revis will be able to change that and instill fear into the opposition and confidence into the Patriots defense. Teams will structure their game plan around Revis and avoid throwing to his side. As a result, teams will have less options throwing the ball, hopefully resulting in more three and outs and allowing the Patriots offense more time on the field.
Keep Up with the Denver Broncos: One of the main reasons the Revis signing is so monumental for New England is because they are once again toe-to-toe with the Denver Broncos as the best team in the AFC. Before the Patriots signed Revis, the Broncos were busy stacking their talents on defense. They acquired our best corner, Talib and added the best free-agent pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware and if that was not enough, also signed the best free-agent safety T.J.Ward. It looked as if Denver was going to run away with the AFC title but the Patriots had plans of their own. If the Patriots had not signed Revis after loosing Talib, they undoubtedly would not have been able to match up with the Broncos.
Super Bowl Potential: Not only will the Patriots be able to match up with the Broncos but Revis should be able to help catapult the team deep into the playoffs, if not the Super Bowl. There is no question the Patriots are a playoff contention team every year because of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. However, part of their playoff success can be contributed to the fact they are in a very weak AFC East division and half their schedule is really not that competitive. In playoff games against tougher teams, the Patriots just cannot seem to be able to get past the AFC Championship game as of late and forget about winning the Super Bowl.
Not to say Revis will be the magic cure for that slump, but his play making abilities will bring them one step closer towards winning the Super Bowl. He will hopefully be what Talib failed to be in the playoffs, which is consistent and healthy. He will also be extremely motivated to win a ring since he has played in six postseason games as a Jet, twice loosing in the AFC title game. He also proved he is extremely motivated by winning by essentially signing for less money with the Patriots. This type of hunger will be contagious and hopefully give the Patriots that spark they desperately need to get to the Super Bowl one last time before Brady’s window closes.
The Revis signing is the best thing to happen to the Patriots in a long time but that still might not be enough to help them win the Super Bowl. If they are serious about hoisting that Lombardi trophy this season, they will still need to get either a great pass-rusher or elite wide receiver to make them a complete team and unstoppable in the post season, but make no mistake, signing Revis is one hell of a start towards achieving that goal.