The New York Giants wide receivers have talked a big game this week, probably much to the chagrin of head coach Tom Coughlin. Hakeem Nicks called New York Jets Pro Bowl all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis "decent." Victor Cruz said "Teams aren't really scared (of Revis) any more."
Considering the phenomenal seasons Cruz and Nicks have enjoyed, with each having a chance to break Amani Toomer's franchise record for receiving yards in a single season, it's easy to see why the tow receivers feel good about what they have done this season.
Thing is, in their match-ups with Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson the Giants receivers had better hope their bravado does not come back to bite them. The Giants live and die with Eli Manning's right arm and with the ability of their receivers to make big plays. Revis, and the entire Jets troika of cornerbacks, may present the biggest challenge Nicks, Cruz, Mario Manningham and Ramses Barden have faced this season.
Individually, a couple of receivers have had some success against Revis this season. Brandon Marshall of the Miami Dolphins did catch six balls with Revis generally in coverage, though Revis got the last laugh with two interceptions, including a Pick Six, in that game. Buffalo's Stevie Johnson had six catches for 109 yards on Revis.
Still, throwing in Revis' direction is not a good idea. Quarterbacks have a 45.4 passer rating targeting him. He has been thrown at 72 times through 14 games, with 31 passes completed. What is true is that teams are going after him more this season. In 2010 he was targeted only 57 times, allowing 22 completions.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning said the Giants will "have to" take some shots at making plays against Revis.
"Obviously he's a good player and you have to be careful on certain throws. We're going to have to test all of the guys. I'm just going to try to go through my reads and throw it to the guy who should be getting the ball," Manning said. "You have to be select on what throws you want to try to go after him [with] and [be] confident with the throw that you can put it in the perfect spot."
Best guess is that Revis will match up with Nicks. That should be a good physical confrontation between the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Revis and the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Nicks.
That would leave Cruz matched up generally with Cromartie. The Jets second corner has also been targeted 72 times, surrendering 35 completions. Quarterbacks have an 84.3 passer rating going in his direction.
"They are both good players but they are completely different. One is a unique combination with good speed and strength. You usually don't see a guy that quick that has strength like Revis. He reaches and grabs and holds as good as anybody in the league. You can see the strength when he does so he must be a powerful guy," said Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. "I think Cromartie has good speed and those long arms. It is hard to run by him because he is in that trail position so it is hard to come back underneath him. He can reach up and deflect some things when you try to go over the top so those are some quality players. They are totally different but both good cover guys."
The Giants are going to have to win their one-on-one match-ups with those guys often enough Saturday to give themselves a chance to win the game, especially without tight end Jake Ballard.