After his monster performance Sunday in Chicago, Jordan Reed now ranks among the NFL's top tight ends in several statistical categories.
The third-year player is second in receptions (67), tied for fourth in touchdowns (7), fifth in first downs (39) and seventh in receiving yards (694)—all of which are career highs.
Not bad for a player who missed a couple of games earlier this season with a concussion.
Speaking of Reed’s health, he’s set to achieve another important career-best when the Redskins host the Bills on Sunday: he’ll be playing in 12th game of the season. He was limited to nine games as a rookie due to injuries and 11 contests last year due to various ailments.
Coach Jay Gruden said the uptick in Reed’s numbers are the product of three factors: he’s managed to stay in the lineup, he’s got a better feel for opposing defenses and his comfort level with Kirk Cousins.
“Well, he’s staying on the field, number one, which is a big thing,” Gruden said Monday. “He’s always been very gifted, athletic human. He can cut on a dime. He’s got very strong hands. He gets in and out of his breaks in a hurry. But now he’s doing a better job of recognizing coverage and how to get on people’s toes and work on leverage, use leverage to his advantage and set people up.”
Gruden added: “A lot of times when you’re a good athlete and you’re young, you’re too quick with everything. Now he’s being a lot more patient in his routes and getting up on [defenders] and doing a great job of separating and getting his head around, becoming a really friendly target for the quarterback. That goes a long way with a young quarterback."
A friendly target, indeed. On a team with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, Reed leads the Redskins in receptions, targets, receiving yards, touchdowns, first downs and plays of 20 or more yards.
In Sunday’s season-preserving win at Soldier Field, he also set the tone for the Redskins with his grit on the opening drive. Although his 18-yard touchdown catch got reversed on review, his twisting, turning, fighting effort to get into the end zone sent a strong message to the Washington sideline. And Chicago’s, as well.
“I think so,” Gruden said, asked if Reed’s early determination fired up his teammates. “He played with unbelievable effort. He was by far our most dominant player in that football game—running after the catch, getting off the line of scrimmage, separating himself from the defender and making strong catches in tight windows. Excellent game by Jordan. We’re going to need him to have big games these last three also.”