Terrell Owens will not receive a passing grade for his performance last night in the Bills’ 19-13 loss to the Jets in Toronto.
Three receptions, 31 yards and no touchdowns in a primetime game—an atmosphere that T.O. used to dominate, used to stand out and used to put the league on notice that he was a threat to take over a game.
However, that was before he was matched up with Jets CB Darrelle Revis, who did nothing but reinforce the fact that in the 2009 season there is no one better at playing man-to-man coverage—and taking a player out of the game plan.
Yet, these are the matchups that Owens used to win—and win easily—because of his ability to be physical off of the line of scrimmage and because of his separation speed once the ball was in the air.
However, did you see that last night in Toronto?
I didn’t. I didn’t see Owens go up after the ball and I didn’t see him separate down the field. Instead, I saw a corner in Revis who could play over the top of T.O. and mirror his release and routes playing man coverage from an off-man position—something I wrote about earlier this week and something that is challenging to do as a CB at this level of football. The Bills even used motion to put Owens in movement before the snap to try to gain an advantage.
But, it was to no avail against Revis.
Like I’ve said, Revis is playing the best football of anyone at his position this year—better than Champ, Woodson, etc—but we used to expect T.O. to win these matchups, regardless. However, even after Owens started producing big numbers over the last two weeks in Buffalo (14 receptions, 283 yards and 2 TDs), last night proved that Owens will struggle against the league’s best.
And I am wondering what that will do for the wide receiver when free agency comes around this spring. Do we now look at Owens as a player who is just an added bonus—if you can get him for a bargain price—or is he just another guy, a hopeful that you can plug in as your No. 2 or your No. 3 while the big money is spent elsewhere?
I was ready to call Owens a bust earlier this season, but I held off because of the situation he was in—playing for an offense that did not have an identity and playing with a QB in Trent Edwards who would have trouble finding a starting job outside of Buffalo. And then, after Dick Jauron was fired as head coach, T.O. started to show up. He was making plays, and he was getting open down the field.
I am still not ready to call Owens a bust, because he can still make some plays. But when matched up against the best, it is obvious that T.O. can’t pass the test—and that will hurt him when he becomes a free agent yet again.
We can argue all we want, but when scouts turn on the film from last night, they will see a receiver that doesn’t look as imposing as he once was.
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