Jets' pass defense continues to struggle even after addition of Ed Reed

Ed Reed is one of the most successful safeties in NFL history, but he still has not participated in a victory this season.

This is not all his fault, of course. The Houston Texans had many flaws that resulted in them going 0-7 after Reed missed the first two games while recovering from offseason hip surgery. The Texans have lost 10 straight since a 2-0 start.

Houston released Reed after the seven-game skid, and the Jets signed him. They are 0-3 since Reed reunited with coach Rex Ryan, who was his defensive coordinator from 2005-08 in Baltimore.

The Jets’ miserable offense is the main reason why they have dropped three straight and find themselves at 5-7, with their playoff hopes fading as they prepare for Sunday’s home game against Oakland.

But Reed, a future Hall of Famer, has yet to make a major difference in the secondary, which had issues before he arrived, and still has them — particularly with the play of cornerback Dee Milliner, the Jets’ top draft pick this year.

In Sunday’s 23-3 loss to Miami, the 35-year-old Reed whiffed on a tackle after receiver Brian Hartline caught a pass. Hartline scooted into the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown.

Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill completed 28 of 43 passes for 331 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. A week earlier, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco went 17 of 26 for 273 yards, a TD and a pick. In Reed’s first game, rookie EJ Manuel was 20 of 28 for 245 yards and two touchdowns.

Reed does not entirely deserve blame for the Jets’ pass defense struggles, though despite his major role since arriving, he has apparently done little to improve a secondary that ranks 25th in the NFL with 256.8 passing yards allowed per game.

Ryan immediately started Reed in his Jets debut at Buffalo, where he played all but eight snaps. He played all but two at Baltimore and all but eight against Miami. Antonio Allen had been starting alongside Dawan Landry, but in the past three games, Allen played three, 12 and nine snaps.

Allen did an admirable job covering elite tight ends Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots and Jimmy Graham of the Saints earlier this season, as the Jets won both games. But Ryan has said Reed is a better deep safety, while Allen is more effective closer to the line, partly because he was an outside linebacker in college.

Reed does not have an interception as a Jet. The secondary has just five all year — three by cornerback Antonio Cromartie and one each by Landry and Allen, who returned his for a touchdown against New England. Yet Ryan said he will continue to start Reed over Allen, unless Reed gets hurt, "because I think Ed gives us the best shot."

"We all saw him miss the tackle on Hartline’s touchdown," Ryan said. "But Ed did his job. I don’t think there’s any doubt. It starts with communication. I thought he did a good job communicating. The ball did not get thrown over us. But again, we weren’t successful, for sure."

Though the Jets did not allow any deep-ball completions against the Dolphins — a bugaboo all season — tackling was the problem in the secondary this time. Milliner missed a tackle on Mike Wallace’s catch and run that resulted in a 28-yard touchdown, and in Milliner being benched for the third time this season.

After his first benching, Milliner did not start in Week 3 against Buffalo. He immediately returned to the starting lineup after being benched in Week 8 at the Bengals. Ryan would not say if Milliner will start Sunday against Oakland.

Bookmark and Share
blog comments powered by Disqus