How Ed Reed Can Help Fix the Patriots' Defense

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How Ed Reed Can Help Fix the Patriots' Defense
USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots have one sure-fire Hall of Famer on their roster in Tom Brady, and they just might add another one during the 2013 offseason in legendary Baltimore Ravens' safety Ed Reed. 

Will Reed play for the Patriots before calling it quits? 

The Reed-to-New England buzz started with this from ProFootballTalk.com

Peter King of SI.com said during Sunday night’s Pro Bowl pregame on NBC that the Ravens safety most likely will hit the market in March, and that Patriots coach Bill Belichick (described by King as the president of the Ed Reed Fan Club) will swoop in and sign him.

But the speculation didn't end there.

Per the Boston Herald, Reed said the following, "I could definitely play for coach Belichick," when asked about signing with New England during the 2013 offseason. 

If the 34-year-old, impending free agent isn't re-signed by the Ravens and does take his talents to Foxborough, he'd aid a relatively inadequate Patriots secondary. 

 

Positional Impact

Reed would instantly be plugged in as the team's starting free safety. He would supplant Steve Gregory who came over from the San Diego Chargers in 2012 and pieced together a fine season with five passes defended, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. 

While Gregory is signed through the 2014 season, he would be placed in more of a situational role, something that would bode well for New England. 

It'd be interested to see what the Patriots would do with cornerback-turned-safety Devin McCourty, a guy who flourished at his new position this season. 

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

New England could consider moving McCourty back to cornerback, but frankly, he proved to be much more capable as the last line of defense. 

Patrick Chung, a hard-hitter who hasn't been able to stay healthy, will likely be a part of the safety shuffle as well. 

However, none of the current Patriots safeties have nearly as much range or strike nearly as much fear into opposing quarterbacks as Ed Reed. 

If the New England front office doesn't re-signed Aqib Talib, there's a chance the bigger McCourty could move back down to cornerback with Reed patrolling in center field. 

With Reed, the Patriots will undoubtedly have more depth and flexibility in their secondary. 

 

Schematic Impact 

Bill Belichick certainly isn't afraid to dial up an exotic blitz packages from his team's hybrid front, but with Reed, New England would likely be more comfortable sending an extra blitzer with Reed at the free safety position. 

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

While blitzing doesn't automatically equate to winning on the defensive side of the ball, it oftentimes results in hurried throws from the opposing quarterback, which would play into Reed's interception prowess. 

The Patriots were turnover juggernauts in 2012, forcing 21 fumbles and picking off 20 passes. 

Reed would fortify that aspect of the team, at least for the next few years, while adding another intimidating defender. 

 

Summation

Reed doesn't have the burst to the football as he once did, therefore, he probably isn't as rangy as he used to be. 

But, on a defense that allowed 271 passing yards per game and struggled with overall consistency for much of the 2012 season, he would undoubtedly be an upgrade as the team looks to peak a few more times as we near the twilight of Tom Brady's career.

 

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