Grading Ed Reed's Debut with the Houston Texans

Ryan Cook@@RyanCook13Contributor ISeptember 22, 2013

Sep 22, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Houston Texans safety Ed Reed (20) points to the sky prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Just having Ed Reed on the field for the Houston Texans made their defense that much better.

Following two weeks of close calls, the Ravens walked away with a 30-9 win on Sunday. But even if the Texans stand at 2-1 now, all of the panic surrounding how well Reed would fit in with Wade Phillips' defense was quickly forgotten as the defense took a huge boost of confidence with the veteran making his debut.

Against his former team, Reed showed no rust. Where the Texans went wrong against the Ravens was on special teams, while a Matt Schaub pick-six in the second quarter didn't help either. 

Reed showed a lot of his old poise that we were used to seeing in his Baltimore days. He made a few big-time tackles and was responsible for allowing only one offensive touchdown by the Ravens all day.

Here's a closer look at how he shaped up in his first day in battle red:


Coverage: A

The Ravens were of course without Dennis Pitta and Jacoby Jones, so the Texans defense had it a little easier on the day.

Even so, Reed played the part of veteran leader, and after two straight weeks of watching guys like D.J. Swearinger and Brice McCain struggle on tough receivers, there seemed to be a lot more direction in the Texans secondary after Reed delivered his pregame warm-up speech. 

As for Reed's own performance, he was given the tough job of paying close attention to Torrey Smith early in the third quarter, after Joe Flacco finally found some passing rhythm down field. Phillips did a good job of containing the Ravens pass game through most of the first half, but eventually Flacco broke free of short dinky throws over the middle and started taking some chances deep.

Smith pulled down a big-time catch along the sidelines early on, and it was clear the Texans had to bring in some safety help from Reed to give cornerback Kareem Jackson a chance. Really, it was a nice thought, but a few plays later Flacco found Smith in man coverage and hit a 10-yard pass—which eventually led to a Bernard Pierce touchdown run. 

Aside from playing on perhaps the Ravens' best receiver, though, Reed showed no signs of struggle, especially when playing deep like he did on Smith. The Ravens had only 171 yards in the air and kept Flacco scoreless,  but unfortunately, it was other guys like Kareem Jackson who hurt the Texans' chances at securing another comeback win.


Run Support: B+

Baltimore went without Ray Rice, who is recovering from a hip flexor injury, so that left the majority of the running game up to Pierce and Vonta Leach. 

If you were to look at the Texans' defensive performance as a whole, the run stop was definitely the best aspect. Vonta Leach had a poor 65 yards on 24 carries and only five first downs. For all four quarters, the Ravens grew frustrated trying to hold their blocks and give Pierce enough time to search for a hole. 

Reed on his own didn't have a huge part to play, but he made a touchdown-saving tackle against Pierce midway through the third. With no one left downfield, Reed rushed over to hurdle at Pierce and force him out of bounds, even though he came up a bit sore after the play.

Without Rice, the Ravens had little patience running the ball, and Pierce wasn't able to read the defense as quickly as he probably would have liked. Reed played a part getting by the Ravens' blocks, which left guys like J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing to do the clean-up work and knife in to make tackles for a loss. 


Overall: A-

The Texans haven't led a game at halftime, and after all of their hard work to come back against San Diego and Tennessee, the inability to turn field goals into touchdowns cost them. 

Defensively, however, it was pretty much a stellar game for Houston, and it's hard to find fault in many areas. 

Following such a long offseason of training camp questions and debate about whether the Texans got ripped off, Reed seemed pretty equipped to the playbook and didn't show any signs of bother with his hip, either. 

Whether it was shifting across to lend safety help on Smith or Dallas Clark, or showing the athleticism to contain the Ravens' run to the bare minimum, Reed didn't look like he'd missed any time practicing at all. 

Against a tough offense like the Seattle Seahawks next week, having a healthy Ed Reed to lead a defense that ranks third overall is a pretty good place to be.