Ravens safety Ed Reed raised some eyebrows – and some hackles – when he criticized quarterback Joe Flacco after a playoff win over the Texans last January. A week after that, Flacco nearly got the Ravens into the Super Bowl, but a dropped pass in the endzone by wide receiver Lee Evans led to a loss to New England in the AFC title game.
All is well between the two key players, though, with Reed today singing Flacco’s praises.
“Joe is smart,” said Reed, per Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times. “Obviously, I’ve been here since Joe has been here. He’s grown every year. Joe is the leader. Joe understands where we’re at right now and understands that this don’t count for his stats or whatever. He knows he can take chances out here, but when he is in the game, he is a totally different guy. He is more in command. Joe, you just watch him. He has grown. Joe is a family guy now.
"He has a lot more on his plate off the field,” Reed said. “That makes you grow as a man. So, it makes you deal with things differently. It makes you lead in the locker room a lot differently. If you sit around and talk with Joe, you know a lot more about him. You know he is a lot calmer and a lot cooler. We all get shaken at some times, that’s football, but Joe is going to always come back. He is a fighter. He is a guy that you want taking that snap at the end of the game leading your team to go into that final drive to win the game.”
Reed sounded a different tone after a 20-13 win over the Texans in the AFC divisional playoffs, a game in which Flacco was sacked five times, threw two touchdowns and no interceptions.
“I think Joe was kind of rattled a little bit by that defense,” Reed said in an interview on SIRIUS NFL radio. “They had a lot of guys in the box on him. And, I mean, they were getting to him. I think a couple times he needed to get rid of the ball. I don't know how much of the play calling, he could have made audibles or anything like that, checks or whatnot, man, but it just didn't look like he had a hold on the offense, you know, of times past. You know, it was just kind of like they was telling him to do, throw the ball or get it here, you know, get it to certain guys. And he can't play like that.
"You know, one particular play that sticks out to me is when Ray Rice came out of the backfield, he got pushed down and [Flacco] still threw him the ball and you got one-on-one with Torrey Smith on the outside. But it's hearsay for me. I can say that sitting on the sidelines, you know, or sitting in the stands. You just never know what somebody else is seeing."