Scouts Inc.: Five ways to neutralize Ed Reed

January, 8, 2009
1/08/09
12:30
PM ET

Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Matt Williamson

 
 Geoff Burke/US Presswire
 Ed Reed has snagged nine interceptions this season.

1. Use his aggression against him.
Obviously Ed Reed is an extremely aggressive player who breaks on the ball instantaneously and covers a ridiculous amount of ground. However, if your quarterback is very adept at manipulating coverage and looking off the safety or is very good with ball fakes and selling play action, there is a chance that Reed will bite and attack with passion in the wrong direction. However, he is a top-notch student of the game and will bait quarterbacks.

2. Have a true superstar wide receiver on your side.
The Ravens' cornerback play is improved from a year ago, but a truly elite wideout will often force Baltimore to roll Reed over the top of that respective playmaker. This gives you a better chance because it makes it easier to throw away from him. The problem is that not all teams have players like Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss or Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson.

3. Feature the tight end.
Game-changing tight ends are also few and far between, but if you can run your passing game through a playmaker like Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez or Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, then Reed can be taken out of the equation in deep pursuit or matched up against a much bigger man. Reed is adept at handling opposing tight ends in man coverage, but the quarterback at least knows where he is and how to throw away from the star safety.

4. Run at him.
While the Ravens prefer to use the strong safety as the extra man in the box to stop the run, Reed does get that duty on occasion. When he becomes the extra defender in the box, the best way to neutralize him is to run right at him. While he is a very tough run defender, he doesn't have great size to take on much bigger blockers and he can be swallowed up at the point of attack. However, running away from Reed allows him to use his terrific pursuit skills to track your ball-carrier down from behind.

5. Run him off.
If Reed is in the deep middle of the field, it is wise to line up your best or fastest receiver close to the formation in the slot. Then, have him run as deep as possible to take Reed out of the play and open up the middle of the field. This will let your quarterback be more comfortable attacking the intermediate zones without having to worry about Reed.

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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