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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs game plans put Revis in man and zone

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Published:   |   Updated: October 18, 2013 at 02:07 PM

TAMPA — Philadelphia wide receiver DeSean Jackson had just hauled in a 12-yard touchdown pass against the Buccaneers on Sunday, running away from All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis on a simple slant pattern.

Up in the TV booth at Raymond James Stadium, Fox analyst and former Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber watched the play develop.

“To me, it looks like Darrelle's looking for some inside help from his safety,'' Barber said as Bucs fans viewed a TV replay that ended with a dejected Revis heading to the sideline.

Jackson, a speedster who vowed last week that Revis couldn't keep up with him, added a 36-yard scoring catch in Philadelphia's 31-20 triumph, splitting safeties Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson before breaking open in the left corner.

“Just miscommunication on a couple of things,'' Revis said Thursday. “We've got to do a better job in the secondary. We feel that's the strength of our defense and we've got to play better.''

A year removed from knee surgery, Revis said he is close to 100 percent.

Heading into Sunday's matchup at Atlanta, some Bucs fans want to know why the NFL's highest-paid corner — his six-year, $96-million contract pays $16 million a year in salary and bonuses — isn't in man coverage 100 percent of the time.

Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan is aware of complaints that Tampa Bay coaches aren't maximizing Revis' skills as perhaps the NFL's best cover corner since Deion Sanders.

“I invite them (fans) to join us at 5:20 and hang out until about 11 on the first four nights of the week,'' Sheridan said with a smile. “They can help us put the whole game plan together. We'll be happy to take their suggestions on how we can better use Darrelle.''

Then Sheridan, whose defense has improved from 32nd to 16th this season, turned serious.

“We painstakingly game plan on how best to use all of our personnel,'' he said. “My perception is Darrelle is doing a good job. People are smart enough that they're not going to challenge him a ton. We are counting on him to play on their best receiver as well as play our zone coverage — and he readily accepts that role.''

Both of Jackson's touchdowns exploited holes in Tampa Bay's zone scheme as safeties were caught out of position.

In the previous game, a 13-10 loss to Arizona before the bye week, Revis shadowed Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald almost exclusively throughout the afternoon.

Carson Palmer didn't throw a single pass in Fitzgerald's direction during the opening half, but Fitzgerald finished with six catches, including a fourth-quarter touchdown reception against Revis off a dazzling triple move.

Revis, acquired from the Jets in an April trade, has made an impact during Tampa Bay's 0-5 start. Beside registering 20 tackles, he has an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Obviously, he is one of the best in the league,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said. “It's different from how they used him in New York, but good players fit into any scheme.''

Coach Greg Schiano, whose first NFL job was working with Chicago's secondary in the mid-1990s, bristles at any suggestion Tampa Bay's defensive scheme isn't serving Revis well.

“We do use his skills differently than some other guys because he has the ability to cover one-on-one,'' Schiano said. “Does he do it every snap? No, there are times where you give him a breather and let him play zone, but there aren't very many.''

Revis, 28, is admittedly frustrated by Tampa Bay's awful start. As one of eight Pro Bowl players on the roster, Revis anticipated a playoff run for a franchise struggling through a five-year postseason drought.

“It's been rough,'' Revis said. “Expectations were totally different, but this is the state we're in. We can't dwell on 0-5, but we can prove something every week.''

But what about the scheme and all that chatter?

“I don't get into all of the fans, the press clippings and what people have to say,'' Revis said. “I've just got to do a better job as well as a number of my teammates in executing the plays.''

ikaufman@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7833

Twitter: @IKaufmanTBO

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