CANTON, Ohio — Ed Reed has sour memories from the one season he spent as an assistant coach in the NFL, when he helped guide the Buffalo Bills' defensive backs in 2016.
What Reed disliked the most from the experience was what he said was the incompetence of the staff Rex Ryan assembled in his second and final year as head coach. Reed gave his frank assessment Friday, a day before his enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"As a staff, we weren't good," Reed said at a media gathering of this year's inductees. "We weren't good as a staff, and I learned that early. But I was already hired at that point."
Reed spent 11 seasons (2002-2012) as a standout safety for the Baltimore Ravens. During that time, Ryan was the Ravens' defensive line coach, defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. Reed finished his playing career in 2013 with the New York Jets, when Ryan was their head coach.
The relationship led to Ryan making Reed his assistant defensive backs coach in '16, when Ryan's twin brother, Rob, was the Bills' assistant head coach/defense.
Reed had hoped it would lead to a long run in coaching. However, it came to an abrupt end after Ryan was fired before the final game of the season. The Bills were 7-8 and would finish 7-9 after losing to the Jets under then-interim head coach Anthony Lynn.
Although Reed said he "loved Buffalo" and described being in Western New York as "a great time," he was frustrated by the circumstances created by staff members whom he declined to name.
"You had people that were just hard-headed, man," Reed said. "Honestly. Just grown men like hard-headed, like don't want to work with you.
"I know I have the abilities to be a head coach or D-coordinator. It's something I wouldn't mind doing. But it's tough being a player and going back and doing something like that, because egos get in the way."
Reed said he thought that having played for Rex Ryan would help him after he joined the Bills, "because they would understand how I was and know that I'm not a player, I'm a coach now. But I was still being treated like a player."
Asked if he didn't like the way Rex Ryan treated him, Reed said, "It was the staff, people on the staff. I'm not saying names. But I love my coach. Rex is always my guy, but it just wasn't right."
Reed said he enjoyed working with the Bills' defensive backs, who approached him for consultation as much as, if not more, than he would approach them.
"They were my guys, man, they were my guys. No doubt," he said. "And it wasn't just DBs I was coaching. I was coaching linebackers, I was coaching D-linemen in training camp because they weren't getting coached."
Instead, Reed pointed out, those players were constantly being berated.
"I was listening to coaches calling players, 'Dumb this,' and (expletives), but you're not coaching them," he said. "You're yelling at them, but you're not coaching them. You're mad at them, but you're not coaching them the proper way. Just 'paper coaching' is not the proper way to do it."
Reed said he remains interested in pursuing a career in coaching. He said he almost applied for a job as defensive backs coach for the New England Patriots, whose coach, Bill Belichick, has always had a great affinity for Reed.
"But I knew Baltimore wouldn't like that," he said. "I would love for it to just be with the Ravens."