Mehta: For Idzik and Rex, the future is now

By on November 16, 2013
NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpi

Mark Bonifacio/ New York Daily News

Ed Reed speaks to the media at his first Jets practice. 

When Rex Ryan heard the news that Ed Reed was about to hit the open market, he bolted up to general manager John Idzik’s office hoping for an early Christmas present.

“It’s only rumor that I pulled a hamstring,” Ryan said.

More than three months after the Jets were expected to be nothing more than elevator music on the soundtrack of the 2013 NFL season, the organization made a smart and aggressive move to sign the future Hall of Fame safety.

Idzik’s decision to add the 35-year-old Reed two days after he was waived by the Texans made it clear that the 5-4 Jets have wisely shifted away from their rebuilding mindset to add a piece that may help them make a playoff push with seven weeks to go in the regular season.

“We’re just trying to take that next step,” said safety Dawan Landry, who played with Reed in Baltimore. “The playoff run is on our mind.”

Ryan’s reunion with one of his favorite players with the Ravens had little to do with sentiment. It was a low-risk move that could pay dividends for the Jets 24th-ranked pass defense.

Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, who was Reed’s position coach in Baltimore, said the veteran will have a “defined role” in certain packages against the Bills on Sunday. Whether that role grows in coming weeks will be determined by Reed’s caliber of play.

“I would say it’s a false statement that he can’t play anymore,” Ryan said.

RELATED: WILSON WON’T TALK NUMBERS

Ryan, Thurman and team scouts reviewed Reed’s seven games with the Texans and concluded that the skills that have him destined for Canton haven’t completely eroded.

Although Reed, the best ball-hawking safety of this generation, didn’t have an interception in seven games with the Texans, Ryan & Co. noticed that opposing offenses still shied away from throwing in his direction.

“I’m ready to go. You’ll see,” Reed said. “You’ll be the judge of that, too.”

The Jets’ secondary, the weak link in Ryan’s defense through the first nine games, has been vulnerable against the vertical passing game. Reed, who ranks eighth all-time with 61 career interceptions, is an instant upgrade over younger safeties Antonio Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Josh Bush even if age has robbed him of some of his skills.

“We’ve had some issues with the deep ball,” said Ryan, whose safeties have only two picks this year. “Let them throw it now.”

Ryan has treated the use of the word “playoffs” as a taboo, but Reed admitted that the Jets’ postseason position − they hold a one-game lead for the second wildcard spot − played a significant role in choosing them over the Patriots.

“That’s a huge factor,” Reed said. “It’s right there. … I know Rex’s ultimate goal. I don’t have to harp on that. I know what he coaches for.’’

Reed’s familiarity with Ryan’s system coupled with a high football IQ made it a strategically smart signing. Idzik didn’t mortgage the future with draft picks or make anything more than a minimal financial investment. It made sense on every level for a team that considers itself to be a legitimate playoff threat.

RELATED: JETS SIGN ED REED, REUNITE ALL-PRO SAFETY WITH REX RYAN

“He can make a solid contribution,” one league executive said. “(The Jets) need safety help. With his leadership and knowledge of the game, he should be able to help this fairly young team down the stretch.”

There is some concern around the league, however, that Reed isn’t fully healthy from offseason hip surgery.

“His better days are behind him, but it’s a position of need for them that wasn’t really addressed in the offseason,” an AFC talent evaluator said. “I worry about his health and how much his hip surgery in the offseason has affected him. You can’t discount his smarts, instincts, field vision and communication skills. But I see a little less speed, burst and explosiveness in coverage.”

Reed is no longer the dominating force on the back end that created sleepless nights for opposing offensive coordinators each week, but he doesn’t have to be for Ryan.

He’s a Super Bowl champion and a player who “gets instant respect from the team,” Thurman said.

Ryan maintained that he didn’t have to convince Idzik to bring Reed aboard, either.

They delivered a message loud and clear during this up and down season: The Jets believe they have a chance to play more than 16 games this season.

So, they’re going for it.

http://twitter.com/MMehtaNYDN

On a mobile device? Click here to watch video.

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers. FiveFilters.org recommends: March Against Mainstream Media (More info).

Jets Rss Article only

Read previous post:
Derek Jeter, 39, calls his publishing partnership with Simon & Schuster
Jeter plans career in book publishing after Yankee days end

Howard Simmons/New York Daily News Derek Jeter, 39, calls his publishing partnership with Simon & Schuster 'an exciting way for...

Close