The Reed That Broke The Jets' Back

Grant Halverson

How Rex Ryan's insertion of Ed Reed into the starting lineup has transformed the Jets' defense from pretty good to very bad.

Prior to the Jets' 11th game of the year against Baltimore, Ed Reed was cut by the Houston Texans.  The Jets wasted no time signing the aging superstar, in hopes that a reunion with his old coach Rex Ryan might help Reed recapture a little of his old magic, and in the process shore up the increasingly porous Jets' pass defense.  That was the theory.  The reality has been a little less rosy.

Everyone has seen firsthand Reed's diminished skills.  However, even in his diminished state, it was at least theoretically possible Reed would be an upgrade in pass defense, making up in savvy and a deep knowledge of the Rex defensive schemes what he may lack in actual coverage abilities.  Alas, it was not to be.  We have seen the Reed experiment not working so great; what may not be appreciated is just how disastrous it has been.  Consider the following chart of the Jets' defensive performances this season.

APY, ARY, and ATY = Average passing yards, rushing yards, and total yards per game for the listed team.

PY, RY and TY vs. Jets = Passing yards, rushing yards and total yards for the listed team vs. the Jets.

+/- APY, ARY and ATY = The difference between the listed team's average passing yards, rushing yards, and total yards per game and the listed team's passing yards, rushing yards and total yards vs. the Jets.   A negative value means the Jets held the team under their season average; a positive value means the Jets allowed the team more than their season average.

Game

Team

APY

PY vs. Jets

+/-

APY

ARY

RY vs. Jets

+/-

ARY

ATY

TY

vs. Jets

+/-

ATY

14

CAR

218

261

+43

129

131

+02

347

392

+45

13

OAK

230

233

+03

134

150

+16

364

383

+19

12

MIA

259

328

+69

95

125

+30

354

453

+99

11

BAL

247

245

-02

83

67

-16

330

312

-18

10

BUF

210

245

+35

138

68

-70

348

313

-35

09

NO

321

366

+45

89

41

-48

410

407

-03

08

CIN

262

323

+61

112

79

-33

374

402

+28

07

NE

289

295

+06

118

90

-28

407

385

-22

06

PITT

281

255

-26

79

73

-06

360

328

-32

05

ATL

280

299

+19

79

64

-13

359

363

+04

04

TEN

240

244

+04

112

78

-34

352

322

-30

03

BUF

210

208

-02

138

120

-18

348

328

-20

02

NE

289

178

-111

118

54

-64

407

232

-175

01

TB

200

185

-15

106

65

-41

306

250

-56

The stark difference between the pre-Reed Jets and the post-Reed Jets fairly jumps out at you. Prior to Ed Reed coming aboard, the Jets held opponents to 90 or less yards rushing in 9 out of 10 games.  In every single pre-Reed game the Jets held their opponent under their season average rushing yards.  Since Ed Reed came aboard the Jets have allowed more than 120 yards rushing in 3 of 4 games, and have allowed the opposing team more than their season average rushing yards in 3 of 4 games.

Well, OK, you say, we all know Reed wasn't brought here to stop the run, right?  It's a passing league, you say.  As long as Reed helped the Jets' pass defense more than he hurt the run defense it's all good, right?

Well, not so much.  The pre-Reed Jets held their opponents below their season average for passing yards 4 games out of 10, or 40% of the time.  The post-Reed Jets have held their opponents below their season average for passing yards just once, or 25% of the time.  The total yardage figures tell the same tale.  The pre-Reed Jets held their opponents under their season average for total yards 8 games out of 10, with 7 of those games being 20 or more yards below the opponent's season average.  The post-Reed Jets have held their opponents under their season average for total yards just once in 4 games, and never have they held their opponent as much as 20 yards under their season average.

The big picture is more easily seen in the simple chart below, detailing the performance of the Jets' defense in total yards and in yards vs. the opponents' averages for the season.

+/- Pass Yds

+/- Run Yds

+/- Total Yds

Pass Yds

Run Yds

Total Yds

With Reed

+28.3

+8

+36.3

267

118

385

Without Reed

+1.6

-35.4

-33.8

260

73

333

We can see here in broad outlines just how disastrous the change from Allen to Reed has been.   The post-Reed Jets have allowed more passing yards per game.  And they have allowed more running yards per game. The change to Reed has resulted in a more than 50 yards swing in defensive yards allowed per game.  When opponent's strength is taken into account, the difference is even more stark, with a swing from -33.8 to +36.3.  That's a swing of more than 70 yards per game.  Such a huge swing is the difference between a top 7 defense and a bottom 7 defense in the NFL.  Prior to Reed's arrival the Jets had a pretty good defense.  That 333 yard average would place them 10th in the NFL, and after adjusting for strength of opponent, it would place them approximately 7th or 8th.  The post-Reed 385 yard average would place the Jets 27th.  In other words, since Reed came aboard, the Jets are not a good defense.  The Jets are not even a mediocre defense.  The current Jets defense is a bad; nay, a very bad defense.  To paraphrase the former Knicks guard Michael "Sugar" Ray Richardson, the Jets be sinkin'.  And they be sinkin' under the weight of a single Reed.

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