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Is Ed Reed Becoming A Defensive Liability?

This may be considered an official act of blasphemy among Baltimore Ravens fans and while I am not stating that this is the case, it is a topic that should be open for debate. Ed Reed is a certain Hall of Fame inductee in the future and as recently as last year, when he had eight interceptions in only ten games, was in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

However, perhaps due to a lingering neck and shoulder injury, his tackling skills this season have been visibly inadequate. Furthermore, other than his two-interception game on the season opening beatdown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Reed has had only one other pick the entire season. If Ed was having tackling issues but picking off passes at his usual pace, no one would be complaining and this story would never enter my mind or be on sports-talk airwaves.

Unfortunately, the picks are not there and the poor tackling was front-and-center obvious in yesterday's 24-16 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, when Reed was shrugged off of Bengals RB Bernard Scott's 25-yard TD run in the third quarter.

Although Reed has actually had more tackles this year than any season since 2006, he is nowhere nearly productive in pass defense as he usually is. In addition to having only three picks, only one since week one and nothing since the week 11 first win over Cincinnati, he was only credited with having half as many passes defended as compared to 2010.

Perhaps there is the excuse that opposing quarterbacks are so keenly aware of Reed's positioning that they do not dare throw anywhere near his territory. However, Ed has seemed to provide deep help a step late on more than one occasion and has been beaten more often in 2011 than ever before in his illustrious career.

In today's press conference, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh defended his All-Pro free safety, saying on BaltimoreRavenscom, "I've got a lot of confidence in Ed Reed and I'm sure everybody else does."

Harbaugh went on to say:

"Ed covered up a couple things that happened on some of those play-action downfield routes. e covered some of those guys down the field one-on-one. That's a pretty tough task for a safety to do that. Believe me, Ed Reed is carrying more than his weight."