As if the fan base (or at least a very vocal minority of it) wasn’t already uneasy enough entering Sunday’s AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts, we have a key member of the defense now basically calling out the offense.
In comments to Adam Schein and Rich Gannon of SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday, Reed had the following to say (disclaimer: these comments are from the Pro Football Talk “distilled” version. PFT loves to make issues where there are none, so there could definitely be more context here that they are conveniently omitting):
“I think Joe was kind of rattled a little bit by that defense,” Reed said. “They had a lot of guys in the box on him. And, I mean, they were getting to him. I think a couple times he needed to get rid of the ball. I don’t know how much of the play calling, he could have made audibles or anything like that, checks or whatnot, man, but it just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense, you know, of times past. You know, it was just kind of like they was telling him to do, throw the ball or get it here, you know, get it to certain guys. And he can’t play like that.
“You know, one particular play that sticks out to me is when Ray Rice came out of the backfield, he got pushed down and [Flacco] still threw him the ball and you got one-on-one with Torrey Smith on the outside. But it’s hearsay for me. I can say that sitting on the sidelines, you know, or sitting in the stands. You just never know what somebody else is seeing.”
Reed also called out the line, a little.
“[T]he offensive line gotta block better,” Reed said. “You know, they gotta communicate better, gotta pick up blocks, Joe’s gotta get the ball out of his hand. We gotta do a good job of using our weapons. I think Ricky Williams should have had the ball a little bit more yesterday. You know, I mean, Ray Rice was running it, too, but you gotta be able to mix those guys in back and forth. It’s a lot of things that we all need to correct going into New England because they do such a great job of making adjustments, you know, in-game adjustments. It’s not just coming up with a scheme and playing the game. You gotta be able to make adjustments while the game is in the flow.”
There are a couple ways to take this. Ed could be simply showing his offense some “tough love,” challenging them to raise their game this weekend.
At the same time, though, it seems like a very weird time for even tough love, especially publicly. Ed Reed is my favorite Raven of all-time, but I can’t deny that good things rarely come out of his mouth when he opens it up and spouts off over the last few years. He’s always been a goofy guy, and the timing of these comments is nothing if not goofy.
On top of that, what exactly did he want Joe to do? Aren’t quarterbacks who “just get rid of the ball” willy-nilly exactly the kind of player that have boosted Ed’s interception stats throughout his career?
And even if his intent was – as some may suggest – to have called out the coaches or offensive line more than calling out Joe, still, what’s the point? Do it in the building, not on some radio show.
The Ravens won the game. And while they’ll undoubtedly need a much-improved offensive effort on Sunday, they’ll also need to protect the ball as they did against Houston (0 turnovers).