FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Ed Reed knows all the criticism this season is his own fault.
The New York Jets safety is no longer the hard-hitting, ball-hawking youngster who could single-handedly change a game. But, Reed insists, he’s still pretty darn good.
“I understand that the blessing and talents that came down from God that I’ve been given, I have created a standard for myself,” Reed said Thursday. “That standard hasn’t been created by fans or (any) person in the media. It’s been created by me.
“So, criticism coming from you guys or whoever, I don’t worry about it.”
In other words, Reed became so great at his position that anything less than his All-Pro caliber performances from his Baltimore Ravens days make him seem nothing more than ordinary. Or, to some, old and near the end of his NFL career.
“I don’t worry about it,” the 35-year-old Reed said. “I’ve been criticized since I was in Miami, since I came into the league.”
In fact, Reed thinks he can still play in the league another two years. That might seem a bit surprising to Jets fans or the Houston Texans, who released him last month after just seven games.
When the Jets signed Reed, it was expected he would have a significant role in Rex Ryan’s defense. But he has started all three games since coming to New York, pushing the promising Antonio Allen to the sideline. The results — 15 tackles, one pass defensed and a missed tackle or two — haven’t exactly endeared him to Jets fans.
He also hasn’t resembled the guy who has 61 career regular-season interceptions and once was voted the NFL’s top defensive player.
“You can’t always measure a guy’s greatness just by what he does on the field,” defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said. “The things he has brought to us off the field are just as important. And they may not manifest themselves right now, but in the future and down the road, this will be a positive thing for the New York Jets.”
Even if it doesn’t pop out on the field.
“There’s a lot of things that are hidden that he does extremely well,” Ryan said. “I think we’re all waiting for him to hit the stats sheet on interceptions. I’m sure he is, too. It’s probably the longest he’s gone in his career without a pick.”
Reed’s last regular-season interception came more than a year ago, on Dec. 2, 2012, against Pittsburgh. But he also had one in the Ravens’ Super Bowl win last February.
Reed is serving as the ultimate example for the team’s young safeties, including Allen and Josh Bush, who Thurman says are “all following him like little puppies.” Reed, Ryan and Thurman have a long history from their days in Baltimore together, and Ryan insisted they brought him to New York not as a sentimental move but one that would help a struggling secondary.
The only problem is that the Jets are still having issues. Buffalo and Baltimore routinely beat New York on deep passes, and Ryan Tannehill threw for 331 yards against the Jets last Sunday.
“As far as the games are concerned, we’re making fewer mental mistakes back there than we were earlier in the year,” Thurman said.
Thurman acknowledged that Reed is no longer as speedy as he once was — “At 35, how many of us are?” — and the safety pointed out that he’s still only a few months removed from having his hip operated on in April.
“I don’t think I’ve played much different this year than I’ve done in the past if you go back and look at tape outside of not being challenged as much,” he said. “I don’t think there’s really been too much of a difference outside of having a second hip surgery and maybe not moving as fast.”
Reed also mentioned that rules changes as a result of the league’s new collective bargaining agreement have taken some time to adjust to.
“You have to evolve with that and I think I’ve done well with that,” he said. “I think I’m still effective. I watch tape, too. I’m not only watching myself, I watch safeties across the league. But the fact is that I have become a standard at the position and it comes with the territory of being torn down more when you’re in the latter part of your career, especially coming off a Super Bowl.
“People look to tear you down.”
Reed is a likely Hall of Famer based on his 11 mostly standout seasons with the Ravens, but it’s safe to say he won’t look back on this year as one of his favorites. He has been on two teams and played in 10 games — and has yet to walk off the field after a win.
“I’ve been around this league a long time to know this is a team sport,” he said. “I’m not successful, we’re not successful as a team without each other.”
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