Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui is knocked down by former Ravens safety Ed Reed in a game last season. Credit: Getty Images
The Patriots more or less said, “we’re all set” when it came to signing sure-fire Hall of Famer Ed Reed. New England had been mentioned by many as one of a handful of landing spots for the former All-Pro safety after he was cut by the Houston Texans on Tuesday, but Thursday, a day after clearing waivers, Reed signed a contract with the New York Jets.
The reason Patriots head coach Bill Belichick may have hesitated in looking to bring Reed in is that, for once, New England seems to be set in the secondary (potential healthy help on the defensive line might have been met with more urgency).
Consider that safety Devin McCourty is enjoying, arguably, his best season as a pro. Fellow safety Steve Gregory currently has a thumb injury, but could be back as soon as this Monday in Carolina (8:40 p.m., ESPN). Cornerback Aqib Talib, who was being mentioned as a possible Defensive Player of the Year candidate before he injured his hip in Week 6 against New Orleans practiced on a limited basis this week and could also play Monday against Carolina. In other words, the Patriots are getting healthy at the right time, in the right spots.
The Pats may have also learned their lesson when it comes to bringing in 30-something former All-Pros in the defensive backfield. Much was made about the team signing Adrian Wilson this past spring but he struggled in camp, was relegated to the second team on the depth chart and was finally placed on injured reserve before the regular season began.
The Patriots are also above average in most statistical pass defense categories. They’re12th in yards allowed, tenth in yards per attempt, have only allowed 13 passing touchdowns (potential playoff teams like the Packers, Jets and Cardinals have each allowed 17) and have recorded 12 interceptions (only the Bills, Broncos, Seahawks and Panthers have more).
The Pats have allowed just two quarterbacks to throw for over 250 yards against them this season, in Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger, but the secondary picked off both of those quarterbacks in those respective wins (Roethlisberger twice).