If D.J. Reed does not appear to be bothered by being neglected, it is because he has become accustomed to it.
Reed, a graduate of Kansas State, was selected in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. Reed’s initial years with Robert Saleh’s 49ers, the Jets’ current head coach “messed up” by forcing the cornerback into a nickel corner position, according to Saleh. Reed was released prior to the 2020 season after suffering a torn pectoral muscle following two quiet seasons. Reed returned to health and the Seahawks put him back to the outside, resulting in two strong seasons.
Reed has become a star since signing a modest three-year, $33 million contract with the Jets, despite the fact that rookie phenom Sauce Gardner resides on the opposing side.
Reed stated that he does not believe he has achieved elite status this season. He moved from Seattle to New York in the summer, and in the larger market and on a solid Jets team, one of the best cornerbacks in football is slowly gaining recognition.
Finally, D.J. Reed is being recognized.
“When I went out with Quinnen Williams to the [Knicks] game in late October, people were saying your name, which I’m not used to hearing,” Reed said Friday following Jets practice. “I’m only 5 feet 9 inches tall; I appear to be a typical guy. Therefore, it is acceptable for individuals to observe this. It’s quite good that people are definitely noticing me outside of football.
The praise is warranted for a player who has been underappreciated for the majority of his career and this season.
In March, when Reed joined with the Jets, he raised eyebrows by comparing himself to the game’s top corners. Last NFL season, Pro Football Focus ranked him as the eighth-best cornerback in the league.
This season, Gardner has earned the most acclaim, but the Jets’ outstanding pass defense extends beyond their star cornerback. Last week, Gardner did not shadow Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson, and this week he will not shadow Buffalo’s Stefon Diggs.
Saleh stated that by putting Gardner on the right side and Reed on the left, regardless of where the opposing team’s top receiver lines up, there are fewer chances of coverages becoming misaligned or lost. And the Jets are confidence in their No. 2 cornerback’s ability to defend against No. 1 receivers.
Reed was partnered with Diggs for the majority of the second half of last month’s victory over the Bills and did not allow a reception. Last week, he defended Jefferson, “probably the best wide receiver at the moment,” according to Reed, and limited the superstar to a 10-yard touchdown pass. Reed drew the most attention this season after the game when he stated that he was “in Jefferson’s s–t.”
Again silencing Diggs would draw extra attention for the 26-year-old, who ranks 20th in football in terms of allowing 5.3 yards per target allowed.
Reed, who is building a strong case for his first Pro Bowl nomination in his fifth season, stated, “I want to be the greatest at my position.” “To accomplish that, you must compete against the greatest players in the league. And I believe that, especially this year, the receivers we’ve been facing have been great… I enjoy these difficulties and competing with such men.”
The Jets’ defense has limited opposition quarterbacks to a rating of 77.5, second only to Philadelphia’s defense. The defense has not yet permitted an opposing quarterback to throw for 300 yards.
Reed has experienced a breakout season.
Bill Kostroun/New York Daily News
A large portion of the credit goes to a defensive line that generates regular pressure without blitzing and a rookie cornerback who already has a nickname and a stellar reputation.
Gardner “deserves all the acclaim he has received,” stated Saleh. On the other side of the field, though, is a steal of a free agent who stated that his next move will be to convert deflections into interceptions.
Reed would have a more difficult time moving around at Knicks games if this occurs.
Saleh stated, “He’s been so tenacious in coverage that there’s nowhere to throw when you see his side of the field.” He has been outstanding.