What Does Ed Reed Still Offer at This Stage in His NFL Career?

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What Does Ed Reed Still Offer at This Stage in His NFL Career?
Larry French/Getty Images

It's not a question of if New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan can get the most out of Ed Reed—it's a question of what Ed Reed has left.

We know the future Hall of Fame safety is no longer anywhere near the same player who won the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year award. We know he's only a shell of the Baltimore Ravens safety who was an AP First-Team All-Pro in 2010 or a Second-Team All-Pro in 2011.

Reed was signed by the Jets on Thursday, just two days after he was released by the Houston Texans.

Although he joined the team late in the week, Reed is expected to play on Sunday in Buffalo against the Bills

Let's examine what Reed has left in the tank at this point of his career.

When it comes to individual analysis of a player, the first place to start in this day and age is Pro Football Focus.

Here's a look at how Reed has been graded over the past three seasons:

Ed Reed's PFF Grades 2011-2013
2011 2012 2013
Overall Grade (Rank) +6.9 (12) -2.4 (59) -6.3 (72)
Pass-Coverage Grade (Rank) +3.9 (17) +4.5 (17) -1.6 (55)
Run-Stopping Grade (Rank) +0.3 (40) -3.2 (70) -2.9 (68)
Pass-Rushing Grade (Rank) +2.0 (5) -1.0 (69) -0.3 (35)

Pro Football Focus

The regression is quite noticeable and, frankly, hard to ignore.  

By PFF's (subscription required) count, Reed was on the field for 275 defensive snaps in seven games for the Texans this season—just shy of a 40-snap-per-game average. He accumulated 14 tackles, missed four of them and didn't have an interception. 

After he played only 13 of a possible 69 snaps against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 10, interim head coach Wade Phillips was quoted saying the following, per Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle:

Whether the sixth man or the starter or not, it’s just like a lot of other positions, it depends on what the offense comes out in in the first series or so. Sometimes they come out in four-wide and so-and-so isn’t in there and you say, ‘He’s not a starter,’ and vice versa. It’s really dictated by our packages and what we do as to who’s actually playing the first play of the game.”

So Phillips essentially tip-toed around the fact that Reed had become a situational, sub-package safety in Houston's defense. 

Starting strong safety Daniel Manning has played 56.3 defensive snaps per game. Rookie safety D.J. Swearinger averages only 37.4 snaps and his safety-mate Shiloh Keo averages only 35.1 reps this season.

However, Keo played 114 of a possible 132 snaps in Week 9 and Week 10 combined, and Swearinger was on the field for every defensive play over that stretch. 

According to John McClain of The Houston Chronicle, "The Texans think Reed lost his speed after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his hip on April 30. 

Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Reed, himself, even commented about how he's changed as a player, per McClain: “I know I’m held to higher standards because of what I’ve done in the past, but that was the past. I’m a totally different player now.”

McClain also added: "Reed said he wasn’t making plays because quarterbacks weren’t throwing in his direction. He said not getting the necessary repetitions in the offseason program, camp and preseason was affecting him on the field."

Per PFF, Reed has only been thrown at on three occasions in 2013, but he's allowed a catch on each one of those targets for 82 yards and one touchdown.

It's hard to doubt that Reed is anything but a shell of his former self at this point. 

On the Jets, he should be slotted as the No. 3 or No. 4 safety right away. 

Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen are the clear-cut starters on the back end for Gang Green. 

Jaiquawn Jarrett averages 26.8 snaps per game at safety, and 2012 sixth-round pick Josh Bush has played 38 snaps in four games this season. 

Joe Caporoso of TurnOnTheJets.com viewed the Reed acquisition more optimistically than most: 

If Reed is utilized as the New York Jets' No. 4 safety, his presence won't hurt. He'll be a low-impact player simply providing depth.

If he's asked to be more than that, he very well could become a major liability. 

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