Rex Ryan is at it again. On Wednesday night, the Buffalo Bills announced that the head coach was adding former Baltimore Ravens great Ed Reed to the coaching staff..
A few quick thoughts this AM...
1. Ed Reed brings instant credibility. He's the best safety of this generation. The numbers are downright ridiculous. In 12 seasons, Reed made nine Pro Bowls with 64 interceptions, 1,590 return yardage off those picks and seven touchdowns. We mentioned on here that the Bills could use more of a playmaker at the position, a Reed Lite of sorts who can read quarterbacks and make plays on the ball deep. That was lacking in Buffalo's defense through the month of December. And considering it's so difficult to find that player in free agency (because they rarely even make it to unrestricted free agency) and the NFL draft, this hire certainly helps. Reed will be working underneath primary defensive backs coach Tim McDonald who had 40 career picks himself while playing on some dominant San Francisco 49er teams.
Yes, Donnie Henderson did a very, very solid job developing young talent on the Bills roster. But many players in the league say they love working with former players, players who were the best at their profession. McDonald and Reed bring a ton of clout to that defensive backs room.
2. But can he coach? This remains to be seen. Coaching is an art form and requires more hours than anybody on the outside realizes. Position coaches, the engines behind weekly game plans, are criminally underpaid in the NFL. Of course, coaches and players have always lauded Reed for being such a student of the game. There's a reason he was usually in the right place at the right time in centerfield --- he put in the work. But look around the league, and you won't see many former All-Pro's as assistant coaches. Players like Reed are often more apt to slide into a TV career locally or nationally than a coaching career. And remember, Rex Ryan made a similar hire before in New York with Doug Plank. He added "Mr. 46" from the legendary Chicago Bears defenses to the Jets staff as a defensive backs assistant in 2009 and while that Jets defense was excellent, Plank was only around for one year.
Above all, Reed must help the Bills cut down the communication errors on the back end. All season long, players noted that communication was a problem. Somehow, Reed must help cut out the static.
The highlights were constant with Reed. But he's always been the first to note that a lot of work went into it, a good sign for someone making this leap into coaching.
“You have to put that study in,” Reed said last November. “If you don’t put the study in, you’re going out there really unprepared … It helped me not to guess out there on the field. You have to know and believe and trust it. It helped me trust my abilities when I was out there on the football field.”
3. Deciding who'll play safety the bigger question. Will Aaron Williams be ready to return when the pads come on? What do the Bills do with the hard-hitting Bacarri Rambo? Could Corey Graham be a cap casualty? This is a position in flux. Buffalo sorely missed the presence of Williams in the secondary. An emotional leader on and off the field, he appeared set to make a giant leap in his fifth year... and then suffered a scary neck injury that led to tingling through his body. Williams returned to the practice field in December and is dead set on returning but Buffalo will be exhausting all possible options through the off-season. Maybe a young player like Rambo benefits from Reed's arrival. It's worth finding out if the price is right for the restricted free agent. Graham led the Bills in tackles but had his share of mistakes in coverage and the Bills can save $2.675 million underneath the cap by releasing him.
Say this about Rex Ryan: He's trying. The Bills have wasted no time on defense.