"Brooks Reed is, well, Brooks Reed."
That comment really made us think about what outside linebacker Brooks Reed really is for the Houston Texans. Reed is entering his third season for the Texans and there has been plenty of talk on where Reed's production has gone since his rookie season in 2011.
Here we are guilty of being tough on Reed and pointed out he has done very little off the edge for the Texans' defense as a pass rusher. There is no secret on how Reed handles the edge in the run game and without him the defense would not be as nearly as stout. Reed has always been described as a high motor player that made the transition from college defensive end at Arizona to outside linebacker for the Texans.
It has been a mixed bag for Reed. He has shown the ability in his rookie season to get to the quarterback but always seems to be locked up with offensive tackles on his pass rush. He does not have a counter move to go with his bull rush and, if he does get to the quarterback, it always seems like he is a step too slow to make the play.
We decided to look at Reed's stats a little closer to see what he has done since his rookie season.
Number in parentheses is per snap the said stat occurs.
2011- 16 games
Snaps - 799 Sacks - 6 (133) QB Hits - 6 (133) QB Hurries- 25 (31.9)
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2012- 12 games
Snaps - 598 Sacks - 2.5 (271) QB Hits - 3 (199.6) QB Hurries- 19 (31.5)
2013- 2 games
Snaps - 126 Sacks - 0 QB Hits - 0 QB Hurries- 3 (73.5)
Playoff Reed - 4 games
Snaps - 219 Sacks - 5 (43.8) QB Hits - 0 QB Hurries- 3 (73)
Reed's stats are at a steady decline, especially his quarterback sacks and quarterback hits, while his hurries are still in the same ballpark. There is not much data for this season but the one stat line that opened up our eyes is what he has done in the playoffs. Reed actually turns into a pass rusher and finishes plays and is sacking the quarterback every 43.8 defensive snaps. He cut his best sack season (2011) by a third with his performance he showed in four playoff games. He actually turns into a difference maker during the playoffs.
Reed has shown that during the playoffs he can be what the Texans want in an outside linebacker, but the issue now is where is this play during the regular season. Reed has shown he can be better than an average outside linebacker but he is not gifted with top notch speed or quickness so his room for error is much smaller than the more physically gifted outside linebackers.
It comes down to technique for Reed and being able to turn the corner off the edge. He is an important part of the Texans' defense but his progression as a player is becoming stagnant from his rookie season in 2011. A position change could help Reed out and inside linebacker could be a help to his career. There could be a method to the Texans' madness on why they were working Reed out at inside linebacker.
For now, Reed is going to be an edge player for the Texans but the clock could be ticking on his time in Houston. What happened to Connor Barwin should be fair warning what the team is about and what is produced during each season is what counts. Also, add in three young outside linebackers in Sam Montgomery, Trevardo Williams and Willie Jefferson now on the roster, he has officially been put on notice. This 2013 season is a big one for Reed and finding what makes him produce in the playoffs would be nice to show during the regular season.