Darrelle Revis took the field at Laney College last weekend to work with high school athletes for the Nike football combines in Oakland. Players were timed in the 40-yard-dash, shuttle, and vertical jump using Nike’s digital SPARQ technology for more accurate results than a stop watch.
For a good laugh, Nike let a few members of the media gauge their athleticism to compare against people who are actually in shape. A lot of folks were humbled.
But Revis’ confidence didn’t stagger for a moment when discussing the Jets’ potential in 2010.
“We can’t let the hype get to us. We got a lot of great players on this team, and everybody is saying ‘this and that’ about us,” Revis said. “We’re paper champs right now, and I think — as one of the leaders on this team — we need to really focus in on not being paper champs and focus on the goal at hand.
“And that’s winning our division, going to the playoffs, and winning the Super Bowl. And this is the team to do it.”
After acquiring cornerback Antonio Cromartie, running back LaDainian Tomlinson, receiver Santonio Holmes, and defensive end Jason Taylor, the Jets faced a heap of criticism for tampering with team chemistry, all for a shot at the Super Bowl.
Despite the chatter, the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback knows the environment in Florham Park is strong enough to welcome the new players with open arms.
“We’re very accepting. It’s good friendship in the locker room,” Revis said. “When those guys came in, they adapted very well. … Now it’s about executing on the field.”
And that’s the most critical challenge these Jets face in turning their paper-champion team into a Super Bowl champion. Revis has no concerns about chemistry, or how the personalities will mesh in the upcoming season.
It’s all about what happens when the pads are on.
“Santonio has to get comfortable with Mark (Sanchez). Jason Taylor has to get comfortable with the defensive line and the scheme,” Revis added. “I think it’s just those things — the football stuff — that we really need to focus on with those guys. Make sure they know everything and they can make plays.”
But it’s not only the veteran, free-agent acquisitions that Revis and the Jets are welcoming with open arms.
Kyle Wilson, the Jets first-round selection in the 2010 draft, is in Revis’ hands as he makes his transition from Boise State standout to nickelback in coach Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme.
With Wilson already knowing the playbook, Revis’ job rests in helping the rookie adapt to the mental aspect of the game. Recognizing the strategy that works best in certain situations is part of the rookie learning curve Revis hopes to ease for Wilson.
“I’m going to try and take him under my wing and teach him what I can,” Revis said. “But also, the guy has made a lot of progress. We just got done with the rookie camp. The coaches have been raving about him and about what he knows already.”
It’s leadership by committee for these New York Jets. While people often look to one specific person to identify as a leader, Gang Green has no problem spreading that role around when it’s appropriate.
As far as the locker room is concerned, there are no criteria a player must meet before he can adequately lead and inspire. With future Hall of Fame veterans Tomlinson and Taylor added in the offseason, there’s no shortage of leadership experience.
“We don’t have a problem with LT breaking down the huddle, or coming in and saying how he feels,” Revis said. “We feel comfortable with these guys. … They’re part of the Jets. So let’s get this Super Bowl.”