|Stevie Johnson had a surprising nine catches against the Jets, many of them beating Darrelle Revis. (AP)|
The exuberant celebrations and jubilant stupidity of Buffalo's Stevie Johnson made all of the news from the Bills-Jets game, but there was something that happened in the game that was far more interesting which coaches around the NFL are studying with great interest.
In that game, Johnson regularly beat the best cornerback in football, Darrelle Revis.
Now, Revis getting beat happens. Revis getting beat the way Johnson did it never happens. Never, ever, never.
The Newark Star Ledger reports Revis was targeted 13 times and gave up nine catches for 77 yards and a score. It was the second most targets all season showing teams might be getting more comfortable throwing at the best corner in football.
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In the defense of Revis, the Jets played a great deal of cover zero -- man to man with no safety help -- more than they had all season. And no one right now is better than Revis. So, there's that.
But Johnson utilized a number of tactics I had not seen receivers previously attempt against Revis and I've watched Revis all year. First, the Bills attacked him heavily, which is unusual in itself. Then I saw Johnson do three interesting things:
• He made every route look like a pass. It was difficult to tell when Johnson was running a pattern or run blocking. Unlike some other star receivers, who often jog run blocking routes, Johnson ran every route extremely hard and disguised it as a pass pattern. It was very noticeable that this was throwing Revis off.
• Johnson did more stutter-stepping throughout chunks of his route than I've ever seen any receiver do. Normally, this is dangerous, because it slows the route, and puts more pressure on the quarterback and offensive line. But because quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is mobile and the line was doing well, the faking and stutter-stepping didn't hamper the Bills and confused Revis. He had no idea if Johnson was cutting his routes short or going deep. This was the case on the 5-yard touchdown catch, the first touchdown against Revis this season.
• Lots of double moves. On one route, Johnson went deep, returned toward the quarterback; then went deep and returned toward the quarterback a second time. The pass was on target and Revis was beaten fairly badly. I saw the Bills run two more double moves and one triple move.
Watching Johnson reminded me of how Randy Moss burned the Jets once or twice.
"He's human," Jets coach Rex Ryan said of Revis. "He's still way better than any corner in football. Head and shoulders better. I'm not going to say that [Johnson] got the best of him. I think he's a great talent, but he never got the best of Revis."
Well, no, he definitely did. Revis, for one of the first times ever, showed he wasn't an immortal. You can believe every team is studying that tape. 2. Few people in football saw this putrid season of the St. Louis Rams coming. They are one of the biggest surprises in football. Few see Steve Spagnuolo, who is 10-33 as Rams coach, getting fired after this season but his contract expires in 2012. What the Rams might do, league officials believe, is extend Spagnuolo's contract one year to 2013, avoiding a lame duck year, this giving Spagnuolo one final year to turn the franchise around.
3. John Elway continues to stick to his belief that while Tim Tebow deserves respect, it is the Broncos' defense and running game mainly responsible for the team's turnaround. He's right, of course.
4. This is a disgrace.
5a. Champ of the week: Chris Johnson. Finally broke loose. He had 190 yards against Tampa Bay. It's about time, Chris. (And please return my tweets).
5b. Chump of the week: Stevie Johnson. Enjoyed the first part of the celebration, thought the second half was tasteless. Overall, Johnson needs to tone down his act, as teammates over the past few days have urged.
5c. Tweet of the week: "How'd you get hurt on your year off?" Warren Sapp tweeting to Chad Ochocinco after Ochocinco tweeted about getting hurt. Damn, Warren, that's cold.
6. League officials believe the Philadelphia Eagles will use the franchise tag on DeSean Jackson and then attempt to trade him. But that will be more difficult than they think. Teams are beginning to have doubts about Jackson's dedication. Wonder why? What with the alligator arms, missing meetings, and drops.
7. Watching Brandon Jacobs on Monday night against New Orleans ... he's done as a starting running back. Jacobs was never fast but was aggressive. Now he does too much tippy-toeing to the hole and if it's possible looks bigger than ever. Jacobs has got to be pushing a solid 275. He looks huge. Is that Jacobs in the backfield or Refrigerator Perry? That Giants offense is completely different without Ahmad Bradshaw.
9. It's unlikely Michael Vick will play on Thursday night and the prophecy of many in the sport continues to prove true. It is difficult to have Vick as a franchise thrower because of the injury issues. This was the case when he was in Atlanta and it is also the case now. Vick is as frail as he is brilliant.
10. Quietly, oh so quietly, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is starting to light up the NFL. He destroyed the Vikings with only seven incompletions in 34 attempts, three scores and a 128.2 rating. Falcons Coach Mike Smith told the media this week: "He could have easily been 30-for-34 in terms on his percentage, obviously his best day percentage-wise."
It was only the Vikings, true, but Ryan's level of play has risen dramatically since an awful start to the season. If he keeps playing like this the Falcons will be a vicious out in the postseason.