Reed Winning Appeal Unlikely, Suspension 'A Joke'
It's hard to believe that safety Ed Reed will win his appeal to the NFL of his one-game suspension without pay for repeated hits to the head and neck area because it was his third offense, says ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
But the fact that the league had to go back to 2010 to stack the three offenses, combined with reviewing Reed's intent, has players, coaches and analysts in utter shock by the league's decision.
"My reaction to this is that it's a joke. I feel bad for Ed Reed, I feel bad for the Baltimore Ravens," said ESPN analyst Tim Hasselbeck. "To me it's crazy. To me, I look at it and I think Ed Reed is getting a raw deal here, and there's no question about it that the Baltimore Ravens are getting a raw deal here."
In an NFL Live segment, Hasselbeck, Eric Mangini and Trey Wingo argue that referees' ability to measure a players' intent on hits to the head and neck area may be "vitally needed."
In reviewing Reed's hits, the vast consensus among pundits is that Reed is not a headhunter and he isn't out to injure another player.
Mangini explained that defensive backs may actually be trying to avoid the head and neck area, but it's difficult to judge exactly where the ball carrier or receiver is going to be. The aiming point could even change in mid-air depending on the move a receiver makes, and contact to the head could be unavoidable.
"There's a difference between headhunting and then having contact with a guy and having a flag thrown because of a hit to a defenseless player," Hasselbeck said. "When I look at it that way, I think common sense needs to apply here for the National Football League."
"Nobody is OK with headhunting, but if you watch that play, if you watch that hit that he got flagged for, was he up a little high … you can't say, 'Oh absolutely he was going to knock that guy out and it should cost him," Wingo said of Reed's hit to Steelers receiver Emmanual Sanders, which can be seen below.
The irony of the situation is that Reed has actually come under recent criticism for not being more aggressive in his tackling, with some wondering if he has avoided contact to escape further injury to his banged-up body.
Regardless of outside opinion, the league already went through its process, and baring an overturn of their decision, Reed will miss out on a crucial cross-country trip to San Diego and lose his game check reportedly worth $423,529.
"[I]t's one of those situations where I don't know [if] the penalty fits the crime. This is a huge amount of money," Mangini said. "It may be more than every other guy has been fined collectively for all the head-to-head hits."
The suspension comes at a critical time as the Ravens are amidst one of their most challenging three-game stretches of the season (Steelers, Chargers and Steelers). Already without two of its top three cornerbacks (Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith), the Ravens have to face the Chargers' potent passing attack led by quarterback Philip Rivers.
CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman reports that Reed is "furious" and the Ravens organization is "mad."
"Maybe they are right to be. Reed is not a dirty player, and he plays for one of the classiest, best-run organizations in all of sports – from top to bottom," the columnist wrote.
That said, Freeman warned the Ravens and all the other 31 teams: this is the new NFL and it's here to stay.
Freeman called the suspension "historic" and sets a precedent going forward. The severe punishments could lead to fewer hard hits, more wrapping up, fewer concussions, and better health for players in their 60s and 70s, says Freeman.
"Is this a PR effort? Hell, yes. Is it a safety effort, too? Hell. Yes," Freeman wrote. "The new era in the NFL might as well be called NFL A.R.
"After Reed. Because everything changes now. Everything."
McPhee Using Gamesmanship With Injury Comments?
Defensive end Pernell McPhee declared himself 100 percent healthy last week, suggesting he would return to game action for the first time in two weeks.
But as a friend joked with me the other day, McPhee was 100 percent on the bench Sunday, still nursing his thigh and knee injuries.
CBSSports.com's Jason Butt indicated that McPhee may not have been truthful in his comments.
After not activating McPhee for the game in Pittsburgh, Head Coach John Harbaugh explained yesterday that his defensive lineman didn't suffer a setback and he is on the same recovery course he has always been on. Harbaugh made clear that he never declared McPhee healthy and reporters would have to ask McPhee to get further clarification on his statements last week.
Asked if McPhee was using gamesmanship when he declared himself healthy, Harbaugh replied, "Perhaps."
"That would be a good question for him," Harbaugh added. "I did ask him that question last week, but I'm not going to share the answer with you. He's a good guy and he's working hard. There was no setback and he's on schedule – very soon. This week [against San Diego] is a possibility. Last week, in all fairness, was not a possibility."
Where Would Ravens Be Without Jacoby?
Ravens returner/receiver Jacoby Jones was the difference in Sunday's win over the Steelers.
Without his punt return for a touchdown, the Ravens' stronghold and two-game lead in the AFC North would be non-existent. Prior to the decisive score versus the Steelers, Jones' 105-yard kickoff return was pivotal in the win against the Cowboys.
That's a potential two-game swing in the Ravens' 8-2 record had General Manager Ozzie Newsome not picked up the speedster in free agency last offseason.
"It's crazy to think where the Ravens would be without him – and that another team [Houston] would give up on that kind of talent," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Matt Vensel.
- @jasonlacanfora: Fairly baffled by this Ed Reed suspension. Definitely didnt see that coming. [Twitter]
- @jameelmcclain: #FreeEdReed lol [Twitter]
- @realrclark25 [Steelers safety]: Tough on Ed getting suspended. I can't say that I agree w that. It was a penalty but I don't believe he was intentionally trying to harm E. [Twitter]
- @jasonlacanfora: Steelers talked to but he opted to stay on Ravens practice squad. Brian Hoyer among the QBs Pitt will workout Tuesday [Twitter]
- Byron Leftwich suffered fractured ribs during the Steelers' loss to the Ravens Sunday, and Charlie Batch is now Pittsburgh's starter under center. [ESPN]
- Wide receiver Plaxico Burress is scheduled to visit the Steelers, the team he got his start with. [ESPN]
- @pmgleason: #Ravens are now 12 in turnover differential (3rd best in the NFL). Baltimore has forced an NFL-high 9 turnovers on 3rd down. [Twitter]
- Ray Rice and the Ravens' running game is officially in a funk, says Vensel. "[T]he Ravens offensive line – which had a new starter at left guard in Jah Reid – has to block better for him," he wrote. "For the Ravens to be at their best in cold December, January and hopefully February, they must get Rice, their best player and offensive spark plug, back in a groove. Until then, you can't blame Cameron for losing patience, though he would be wise to keep Rice involved." [The Baltimore Sun]
- Rookie kicker Justin Tucker moved on quickly from a rare missed field goal at Heinz Field Sunday, saying "The most important kick is the one after a miss." [The Baltimore Sun]
- There is no best team in the NFL, says Peter King. "I say it's New England, but let's be honest: If the Patriots played Houston or Baltimore or Denver tomorrow, how confident would you be? And the AFC is supposed to be the weak conference this year – remember that." [SportsIllustrated.com]
- King declared Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg his coach of the week. "A special teams coach has to invent a new core every year, and Rosburg showed his value again Sunday night in Pittsburgh," he wrote. "The punt return he coaches produced the only Ravens touchdown of the game – a 63-yard cannon-shot by the quick and fast Jacoby Jones – and it's the third return touchdown by Jones of the season. Rosburg has also had to wean the Ravens from a veteran kicker to rookie (Billy Cundiff to Justin Tucker), while improving the overall play of the kicking game, which last year was a sore spot." [SportsIllustrated.com]