|ESPN.com: NFL||[Print without images]|
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Ed Reed believes critics are out to get him because he's Ed Reed.
Scrutinized because of a slow start with the New York Jets, the nine-time Pro Bowl safety fired back Thursday, insisting there has been no drop-off in his play. Reed, 35, said he feels good enough to play another two years.
"The fact is, I have become a standard at the position and it comes with the territory, being torn down when you're in the latter part of your career," he said. "Coming off a Super Bowl, people especially look to tear you down."
Ten months ago, Reed was celebrating a Super Bowl victory with the Baltimore Ravens. He left as a free agent and signed with the Houston Texans, who cut him last month. He landed with the Jets, who expected the future Hall of Famer to galvanize their struggling secondary.
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 the tape, outside of not being challenged as much, I don't think there's been too much of a difference outside of having a second hip surgery and not moving as fast. But I still think I'm effective.” -- Jets safety Ed Reed
It hasn't happened. Statistically, the Jets have regressed in three games with Reed -- all losses. Between the Texans and Jets, he's 0-11 in games that he's played, meaning he hasn't won a game since the Super Bowl.
Reed mentioned he's less than a year removed from hip surgery, but he still believes he's one of the best safeties.
"I don't think I've played much different this year than I've done in the past," he said. "If you go back and look at the tape, outside of not being challenged as much, I don't think there's been too much of a difference outside of having a second hip surgery and not moving as fast. But I still think I'm effective."
When the Jets signed Reed, Rex Ryan, who coached him in Baltimore, publicly challenged opponents to throw deep on his team. In three games with Reed at safety, the Jets have allowed six touchdown passes, all longer than 25 yards. Reed was directly involved in two of those. In last Sunday's 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins, he missed a tackle on a quick slant to Brian Hartline, who bolted for a 31-yard touchdown.
Before Reed, the Jets allowed 248 passing yards per game. With Reed, the number has grown to 283 per game.
"I don't worry about [the criticism]," said Reed, an every-down player. "I've been criticized since I was in Miami, since I came into the league. I understand that, with the blessing and talents that came down from God that I've been given, I've created a standard for myself. That standard hasn't been created by any fans or any person in the media. It's been created by me."
Ryan, fiercely loyal to Reed, has defended his play, saying he won't take him out of the starting lineup unless he's injured. Antonio Allen, who lost his job when Reed arrived, admitted Wednesday that he's surprised his playing time has been reduced to a handful of snaps per game.
Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said there have been fewer mental mistakes in the secondary since Reed joined the group. He praised Reed's leadership, saying the younger players are "following him around like little puppies."
But Reed has yet to record an interception. He has one pass break-up.
"You can't always measure a guy's greatness by what he does on the field," Thurman said. "The things he has brought to us off the field are just as important. They may not manifest themselves right now, but in the future, down the road, this will be a positive thing for guys."