By Tim Graham
The New York Jets scoff at the notion Buffalo Bills receiver Stevie Johnson is something special when it comes to matching up against all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis.
When asked about Johnson's success against them, Jets coach Rex Ryan, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, linebacker Bart Scott and Revis himself delivered a harmonious response:
In a New York Daily News story, reporter Manish Mehta explored the idea Revis had trouble covering Johnson last season. The Bills will open the season Sunday against the Jets at the Meadowlands.
"That's the position I'm in," Revis told Mehta. "The success that I've had is the reason why maybe people criticize me a different way. ... I'm not panicking over nothing. I know how to play ball. I play great ball. I'm not panicking because a guy got 70 yards."
The story focuses on Johnson's numbers versus the Jets last year: three catches for 84 yards in the first meeting and eight catches for 75 yards and the only touchdown Revis allowed all year in the rematch.
A receiver who can average 5.5 receptions, 79.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns a game over a full season would have 88 receptions for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns.
That's excellent versus mediocre opposition. Against an elite, shutdown cornerback, Johnson's production is remarkable.
(Note: In a previous version of this article, I mistakenly included stats from two 2010 Jets games in which Revis didn't play.)
The Jets defended Johnson better when Revis wasn't on the field. Revis missed both 2010 meetings, the first with a hamstring injury and the second to rest for the playoffs. If you factor in those two games against the Jets and cornerbacks such as Antonio Cromartie, Marquice Cole and Kyle Wilson, then Johnson's pace would drop to 76 receptions for 1,048 yards and eight touchdowns.
Johnson's stat line last season -- 76 catches, 1,004 yards, seven touchdowns -- against a mixed bag of cornerbacks was remarkably close to what he has done against the Jets the past two years. Johnson signed a lucrative contract extension in the offseason.
"Stevie Johnson's a good receiver, and he's caught some balls, but I wouldn't say he's got Darrelle Revis' number," Ryan said. "He goes up against all types: big, strong, fast, shifty. He goes against them all. And I've never walked out of a game saying, 'This player got the best of Darrelle Revis.' Never. Never felt that way. Do you realize how special this guy is? It is amazing what we ask him to do.
"That's their No. 1 receiver. If they're going to spend a ton of their time throwing [at Johnson], we'd probably say, 'If you're going to catch seven balls for 70 yards, go for it. That's fine.' That doesn't usually beat you."
That's true. But a healthy Revis hasn't allowed other star receivers to have that kind of success. He's known for practically shutting out the likes of Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne and Roddy White.
Head-to-head, though, back-to-back games could indicate a trend. Unless, of course, you ask the Jets.
"It's like Michael Jordan playing against Dominique Wilkins," Scott said, "and Dominique gets 20, and it's like, ‘Oh! He lit Jordan's a-- up!' Come on, man. Nobody's indestructible. A lot of times when [Revis] gives up yards, he's got the whole half of the field with no help. Everybody was doubling everybody else on the other side. It's easy for [Johnson] to get [some yards]."
But nobody else, apparently.
(Photo: James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)
taggedBart Scott | Darrelle Revis | Mike Pettine | Rex Ryan | Stevie Johnson