The most recent panacea to hit the New York sports scene arrived a week ago when the Jets ushered Ed Reed, a 35-year-old safety, through the front door at Florham Park and straight into the defensive backfield. Jets coach Rex Ryan smiled and dared opponents on Nov. 14, the day of the signing, to attack his secondary. Five days after the Houston Texans cut Reed, demoted and downbeat, the Jets played him on 59 of 68 defensive snaps against the Buffalo Bills. Reed’s arrival, the Jets figured, would help remedy the trend Ryan identified this week as his defense’s Achilles’ heel. A tendency to allow deep passes, according to Ryan’s diagnosis, has prevented the unit from attaining "elite" status. But as the Nets have found out in Brooklyn, the arrival of a gray-bearded superstar (or two) isn’t an immediate cure-all, even if Reed’s bearded bust will eventually be on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Jets defense allowed three passing plays over 34 yards in last Sunday’s loss and Reed — despite a positive review from defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman — had few highlights. "In football it is unrealistic unless you’re the quarterback, who is touching the ball all the time," Jets tight end Kellen Winslow said of one player changing the course of a team so quickly. By virtue of his role, Reed simply cannot demand an opportunity to defend a pass. "It’s hard when you’re just in the middle of the field and the ball is just not coming near you," Reed said. "I’m trying to get some balls my way." While he sits 20 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage, Reed patiently stares at a quarterback and attempts to lure an ill-advised throw. "He might just take one side away to make you throw to that other side, or vice versa," said Winslow, a former adversary of Reed with the Cleveland Browns. "That’s his game: He gets to freelance and rob stuff and that’s when he gets those picks. He’s just smart, you know?" Reed said his job description is to protect his fellow defenders — even in a Jets defensive scheme that often isolates cornerbacks one-on-one against wide receivers. Reed’s responsibility is layered — "He brought his intangibles with him," Thurman said — spilling into team meetings analyzing Sunday’s opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, or casual conversation.
Ed Reed aiming to correct Jets' lingering defensive deficiencies
Newark Star-Ledger | Nov 22