By Tim Graham
The New York Jets' defense has gotten easier to conquer, and that will make it more difficult for them to compete in the AFC East standings.
Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, perhaps the NFL's best player at any defensive position, suffered a torn knee ligament Sunday. His season almost certainly is over.
"That's terrible," Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. "You never want to see somebody get hurt, especially somebody be lost for the season and have a serious knee injury.
"He's obviously somebody that's been a thorn in our side for a long time in terms of the competitor he is and the great player he is."
Revis has been voted first-team All-Pro three straight seasons and has been to the past four Pro Bowls. I rated him No. 2 in my preseason list of the AFC East's best players behind only New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
The Jets still have talented cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who had an interception return for a touchdown against the Bills on opening day. But there's a big dropoff from Revis to Kyle Wilson, the nickel corner who likely will enter the starting lineup. Wilson, in his third season, has made 14 starts.
Revis is a true lockdown cornerback who can cover the opponent's top receiver by himself. Most teams can't do that, and the added flexibility lets Rex Ryan's defense get creative with their blitzes and coverages.
"It changes a lot because Revis is one of the best if not the best," Bills receiver Stevie Johnson said. "Their defense really goes off what he can do."
The Bills had a much easier time with the Jets' defense when Revis wasn't on the field in the season opener. He left the game with a head injury in the fourth quarter, and Fitzpatrick completed four of his seven passes for 59 yards and two touchdowns for a 124.4 passer rating. Fitzpatrick had a 44.8 passer rating when Revis was in the game.
"I don't know if they're going to change anything up," said Johnson, who scored a touchdown after Revis left. "I doubt if they'll really be in man all over the place throughout the entire game, but whatever their coach does I'm pretty sure it'll work out for the New York Jets. We'll deal with that when they have to."