The Jets have played like they are playoff contenders, but in signing safety Ed Reed on Thursday they signaled they believe rebuilding is over and they are ready to contend this season.
“That was a huge factor for me, for playing this year in general. Being with a team that would contend, be in the playoffs. It's right there, we're focused on Buffalo right now, I know that for a fact,” Reed said. “That's what I'm coming in here to do with these guys and just concentrate and go week to week. I know what Rex's ultimate goal is, I don't have to harp on that. I know what you play this game for, I know what he's coaching for. I'm just coming in to do my role.”
In Reed, the Jets' revamped secondary gets an impact player if his aging body can keep pace. The team's top three safeties from a year ago — LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith — were not retained and in their place the backend has gone young. Reed can help the likes of third-year safety Jaiquawn Jarrett and second year players Antonio Allen and Josh Bush while providing some limited relief in passing situations.
But injuries have derailed Reed this year, including a nagging hip injury that has limited him to just 18 percent of the Texans' defensive snaps this season. Yet, the fact that Reed excelled in the Ravens defense under Ryan and now plays in that similar set-up with the Jets could well help him acclimate with his new teammates.
“I think when you look at the numbers, Ed was always pretty good in that system. [He] finds ways to make plays. He doesn't have to come out of the structure of the defense to make plays,” Ryan said. “He certainly knows how to make plays. He knows how to set up the quarterback better than anyone I've ever been around.”
When Reed was released by the Texans earlier this week, Ryan said he made a beeline for general manager John Idzik's office. Idzik, he said, was waiting with a giant smile on his face.
The first-year general manager knew Ryan wanted his former Pro Bowl safety to don the green and white.
When defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman called this week to try and recruit him to come to New York, Reed was on the golf course when he accepted the call. The two spoke for a few minutes before Thurman handed the phone off to Ryan and the Baltimore connection instantly kicked in.
Other teams had interest in Reed, including the Patriots. The other teams didn't have Ryan as their head coach.
After the conversation, Reed was sold on the move and was out on the practice field in pads on Thursday.
“But just to talk to him and hear the excitement that he had and he felt for me for me as the player that I am, with all the criticism that's been out there, all the talk,” Reed said. “To have him feel the way he feels still, it feels awesome.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.