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Adam Kaufman

The Morning After: Welcome to Revis Island?

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Hello? Are we here?

I’ve heard about Revis Island, but never personally visited.

This sure looks like it. The weather’s great and there’s no one around for miles; just this one guy walking around, smiling from ear to ear.

You know him; you’ve been hearing about him nonstop for months.

After an underwhelming debut in Week 1 at Miami, all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis truly shined for the first time with his new team on Sunday in Minnesota en route to a 30-7 win; the 200th of coach Bill Belichick’s Hall of Fame-worthy career.

With Adrian Peterson out of commission for the NFL’s latest abuse-driven nightmare, former Pats quarterback Matt Cassel was forced to rely more on his receivers, much to the delight of New England’s once dreadfully-inept secondary.

Absent Alfonzo Dennard for a potential shoulder injury, Revis, Logan Ryan, and Devin McCourty combined for three of the Patriots’ four forced turnovers on the afternoon – bringing the defensive total to seven in two games. It was Revis, though, who set the tone by all but entirely eliminating Vikings receiver Greg Jennings from the game.

Many wondered whether Revis would be attached at the hip to the younger, more dynamic and explosive Cordarrelle Patterson after he burned the Rams for 128 total yards in his season-opener, but the Pats’ corner instead devoted his attention to Jennings, who paced Minnesota with six receptions, 58 yards, and a touchdown versus St. Louis.

Rather than the almost exclusive left-side of the field treatment he gave the Dolphins’ Mike Wallace, Revis patiently shadowed Jennings to the left, the right, and even into the slot. As a result, Cassel was flustered, panicked away from throwing toward his primary wideout.

Jennings was targeted just four times and caught one ball for a measly four yards. Along with his first interception of the year, Revis padded his stats with three tackles and a defended pass.

According to Comcast SportsNet New England’s Mike Giardi, Jennings could be heard after the game essentially asking Revis how that happened.

His answer? Revis attributed his success to film study during the week and anticipating formations and routes. The instinctive 29-year-old praised the overall performance of the D-corps and, unlike his verbose counterpart in Seattle, deflected personal credit better than he does a pass.

Needless to say, the story has changed since Jennings told reporters he was “going trick or treating on Revis Island come Sunday” prior to a game between their former teams, the Packers and Jets, in 2010. Jennings finished their only previous encounter with 81 yards on six catches in the 9-0 Green Bay victory.

Not this time.

Through two games, opposing QB’s are just 3-for-11 for 40 yards, one touchdown, and an interception when throwing in the direction of Revis.

However, those numbers are somewhat misleading.

The speedy Wallace rented a one-week timeshare on the Island when he torched Revis for one downfield play that would have counted for a long gain had Wallace not caught the ball out of bounds. He finished off that 33-20 Miami win with one TD and could have just as easily had two.

Despite holding the Fins’ pass-catcher to two catches for 36 yards, while adding two breakups, a fumble recovery, and a tackle, Revis was little better than average compared to the high expectations that have followed him into this season.

Some doubted whether Revis Island is still a vacation destination. Perhaps the vet was stifled by the league’s new rules that force players to err on the side of caution when it comes to contact. Or, it was simply a bad day in South Beach.

Whatever the case, Revis was better on Sunday, much better. It should be noted, though, Jennings is no Wallace at this stage of his career. Cassel, too, is no Ryan Tannehill.

In other words, it’s difficult to say whether Revis and the rest of the secondary was exponentially better this past weekend because it gelled or due to facing lesser competition. Frankly, it was probably a bit of both.

As positive as the performance was, it will be difficult to genuinely measure the impact Revis can have on the field for a few weeks.

Next up, the Patriots will host Derek Carr and the Raiders. James Jones and Denarius Moore are capable of doing damage, but neither presents a threat any scarier than Jennings.

After that? Monday Night Football in Kansas City. While Alex Smith is an improvement under center, Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery are not terribly imposing.

The fun for Revis – and hopefully the rest of us – will really begin in Week 5 when the Pats welcome the Bengals to Foxborough. The tandem of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green is a force to be reckoned with. Circle that one on the calendar.

As the season rolls along, the three-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler will be faced with shutting down the likes of Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery (Bears), Demaryius Thomas (Broncos), Calvin Johnson (Lions), and Jordy Nelson (Packers). You can still throw Reggie Wayne of the Colts in the mix, if you’d like. In time, maybe even Bills rookie Sammy Watkins.

Evaluating Revis this early is impossibly difficult, other than to say you should be pleased overall with what you’ve seen so far. On Sunday, most will tell you he looked as good as he has since intercepting Tom Brady three times during training camp.

But, are we here? Is this Revis Island? Honestly, I can’t tell – but I’m glad I brought my sunglasses.

Follow me on Twitter at @AdamMKaufman and email me here.

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