Breaking Down Why the NFL Should Still Fear Ed Reed
It certainly still exists.
Future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed has agreed to terms with the Texans, ending his Ravens career.— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 20, 2013
Reed finished the 2012 regular season with 58 combined tackles, his highest total since 2006, when he accumulated 60 takedowns.
He also reeled in four interceptions.
Going beyond the elementary tackle statistics and interception numbers, ProFootballFocus (subscription required) rated Reed as a top-20 coverage safety last season, despite overwhelming criticism that Reed was no longer a stalwart in that phase of the game.
Let's break down why this future Hall of Fame safety should still strike fear into his opponents, especially quarterbacks.
Reed missed more tackles in 2012 than normal, but he has always made his greatest impact as an instinctive ball hawk whose anticipation skills lead to game-changing interceptions.
Though his burst in and out of breaks no longer matches his quick decision-making skills, Reed can still cover ground when he's locked on to the football.
At the late stages of a Week 9 game against the Cleveland Browns, Reed demonstrated his legendary closing speed that, surprisingly, is still quite impressive.
At the snap, Reed followed quarterback Brandon Weeden's eyes to the middle of the field from his initial spot as the right deep safety.
As Weeden scanned that side of the field and couldn't find an open receiver, he panicked and attempted to leave the pocket while looking for Travis Benjamin down the left sideline.
After Cary Williams released Benjamin in this Cover 2 look, Reed was about 20 yards away from the wideout in the middle of the field, facing the wrong direction, with all of his momentum taking him toward the other sideline.
Weeden stumbled, but saw no defender near Benjamin as he released the pass.
Reed quickly stopped and pivoted and took the perfect angle to meet the ball before it could get to the receiver.
It was almost as if Reed knew precisely where Benjamin was behind his back.
Sure, the pass was slightly underthrown, but even if it were on the money, Reed would have been there to knock it down.
As usual, Reed not only got into the right position swiftly, but he also finished the play, making an interception that showcased his amazing body control and ball skills.
He is somewhat of a freelancer, which occasionally gets him into trouble, but it's also what helps him make huge plays out of nowhere.
Also, even when Reed wasn't intercepting passes in 2012, he was making plays on the football that resulted in incompletions.
Here's a look at how Reed compared to some of the top safeties in the game based on passes defended and other critical coverage statistics:
|Name||Targets||QB Rating Vs.||Completion %||Passes Defended|
Make what you want of that table, but to me it clearly illustrates that although Reed wasn't thrown at as often, he still made as much of an impact as the other three safeties.
However, Reed's presence in Houston goes far beyond the quantifiable.
His fiery leadership skills, ridiculously productive resume and reputation as one of the most dangerous safeties of all time should bring a frightening aspect to the Texans secondary that simply wasn't there in 2012.
Ed Reed isn't the total game-changer he was in the 2000s, but he undoubtedly should still be feared as the last line of defense in Houston's defense.
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