Revis vs. Sherman: Who’s the best?

Super Bowl XLIX will feature two of the best cornerbacks in the game, even if their styles are different. The cornerbacks, coaches and teammates all weighed in on the discussion this week.

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Doug Baldwin will be packing a few extra items to bring to Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The Seattle Seahawks receiver is one of many receivers in this game that will have to be concerned about facing the best cornerback in the game. Who that cornerback is depends on the perspective of each team’s receivers. Baldwin and the Seahawks offense will be facing New England Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis. The Patriots’ receivers will be facing Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.

No matter how you slice it, they are two of the best cornerbacks in the game today and cause an extra amount of attention from opposing receivers, quarterbacks and offensive coordinators.

“I am going to bring my sunblock, my shades and my hat and I am going to go to Revis Island and see what I can do and I will let you know after the game,” Baldwin said.

Pack a lunch, too, because it will be a long game for any receiver facing Revis or Sherman on a regular basis.

Sherman was the third-rated cornerback by the analytical website Pro Football Focus in 2014, with Revis right behind him, but Revis rarely takes a back seat to any cornerback. Rarely are two cornerbacks with as much acclaim in the same Super Bowl.

“I think it says that the game’s changing a little bit. I think it also says something to the level of play that we’re playing at, and also how fantastic of a season we both must be having if we’re bringing that much attention to the game,” Sherman said. “It’s appreciated. Obviously as corners and elite corners, there’s a certain respect level and admiration because you understand what it takes to play this position at a high level, and how fragile the praise is. You give up one pass for 10 yards and they say the world’s over. You get two interceptions in a game and they say that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s just what comes with the territory.”

The territory and scrutiny will increase on Sunday, as about 113 million viewers are expected to tune into Super Bowl XLIX. Quarterbacks Tom Brady and Russell Wilson will get usual the bouquets reserved for Super Bowl quarterbacks, but Revis and Sherman rightfully command two of the top three cornerbacks salaries in the game. Revis averages $16 million per season on the two-year deal he signed with the Patriots. Sherman is third among cornerbacks with a $14 million average on his four-year contract with the Seahawks.

Each is ultra-confident, for good reason. Quarterbacks shy away from testing them and they usually perform when given the opportunity.

Revis said he couldn’t learn anything from watching tape of Sherman, and Sherman, who loves to espouse his opinion, didn’t seem too bothered by Revis’ statement.

“I don’t really have a reaction to that; that’s fine. I don’t watch tape of him,” Sherman said. “We watch offenses and he plays defense, so I don’t really find myself watching tapes of him. Are there things you can learn? There’s things you can learn from everybody. I learn things from our practice squad players to Earl Thomas – I think everybody has a unique style about their game that you can put into your game, but if you’re asking about him specifically, I’ve got nothing.”

Whether Revis’ comments were made to draw a reaction from Sherman or not, there is mutual respect.

“Sherman, he plays left corner and he does great. He’s great at what he does,” Revis said. “I’m not really knocking him on what he does. He’s a playmaker and that’s what he does for his team.”

Neither is among the top interceptors in the league. Sherman had four in 2014 while Revis had two. But because of the respect they engender, passes aren’t thrown their way too often.

According to Pro Football Focus, Sherman had 65 passes thrown his way in 2014, with 31 of them completed. Quarterbacks had only a 48.4 passer rating targeting a receiver that was deemed to be his responsibility.

Revis had 79 passes thrown his way, with 48 of them completed and quarterbacks possessing a 72.6 rating against him. Both of them are out of the top 35 cornerbacks targeted, despite both of them being in the top 25 for snaps played.

“They have multiple different techniques that they use. I don’t want to go too deep into it,” Baldwin said. “(Sherman) has a different technique than Revis does. Revis is probably one of the most patient defensive backs I have watched on tape. His technique is vastly different from what I have seen from other guys. It presents a challenge. Sherman is one of those guys – he might not be the most patient but he has length to him and his competitiveness is unparalleled. Two vastly different techniques, but they are both obviously very good at what they do.”

The only other cornerback that garnered consideration among the best in surveying several players in Phoenix this week for the Super Bowl was the Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson.

Each style has a unique aspect to it. Just ask New England cornerback Brandon Browner, who played with Sherman before signing with the Patriots and now boasting Revis as his cornerback sidekick.

“We play a lot more man to man over in New England. They play a lot of Cover-3 in Seattle. (Sherman) plays to his leverage, knowing where help is coming from. He is a cerebral football player and so is Revis,” Browner said. “Revis, he just has a nice balance about his game. It never seems like he takes a false step left or right. His game is pretty smooth and polished. It seems like he isn’t running as hard as the guy he is covering. The guy he is covering always seems like he is sprinting and (Revis) kind of has a jog about his game.”

Seattle receiver Jermaine Kearse echoed the sentiment that Revis is “patient” and “disciplined.”

Sherman said Revis is more conventional in the way he plays cornerback, but Baldwin sees similarities in their styles.

“They both play, I would say, conventional corner. They are both very cerebral. (They are) both very patient at the line of scrimmage and capable of recovering very quickly. They are very similar in that aspect,” Baldwin said. “I think they are just playing in two different systems. What makes them great is that they can go in any system and be successful. I think they are more similar than anybody else wants to give them credit to be.”

With Kearse and Baldwin for the Seahawks, and Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman for the Patriots, neither team is necessarily feared because of their receivers. But with Russell Wilson extending plays with his legs for the Seahawks and Tom Brady dissecting defenses for the Patriots, there is plenty of challenge for the star cornerbacks.

“I think they’re both real good players,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. “I’d say their styles are a little bit different. The schemes that they play in are a little bit different. They’re both good. I think they both have their unique style of play.”

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