Reed's statements on Flacco are in character

Reed's statements on Flacco are in character

Published Jan. 19, 2012 4:03 p.m. ET

Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed spoke to the media on a national conference call on Thursday.

This in itself is not a big deal, except that Reed all week has been the subject of a firestorm regarding some comments he made Tuesday about his quarterback.

Two days later, some guys would have hidden or declined to answer questions about the flap. Not Reed. Three days before he and the Ravens play New England in the AFC Championship Game, Reed was present and accounted for.

Call it a Hurricanes thing, which by extension has become a Ravens thing. Reed and Ray Lewis are the two leaders of the Ravens. Both came from a college culture where openness and frank statements were the norm. They merely took what they learned with the Hurricanes to the Ravens.

Last year, Lewis said after Baltimore lost in the playoffs to Pittsburgh that there was no way the loss could be pinned on the defense, that the Ravens offense gave the Steelers too many turnovers and short fields. Controversial? Maybe.

Honest? Absolutely.

This year, Reed went on Sirius and said that Joe Flacco looked rattled in Sunday's win over the Texans.

"They had a lot of guys in the box on him," Reed said of Flacco. "And, I mean, they were getting to him. I think a couple times he needed to get rid of the ball. It just didn't look like he had a hold on the offense."

To the world, this was a shock. A Hall of Famer criticizing the team's quarterback the week before a huge game? Perish the thought. Except it was Reed, who has spent his entire career being honest and stating his feelings.

People want athletes to speak their mind, then when they do they criticize what they say.

"That's just what it is, man," Reed said.

A few years ago when the Hurricanes were in their dancing, gyrating heyday, they visited Cal-Berkeley. After watching Miami players celebrate sacks and touchdowns, the California media approached the Miami media group in the press box to say how shocked they were.

The Miami media looked back and said, "At what?"

What was normal to them was not to the rest of the country.

Lewis and Reed have taken that to the Ravens, where what is normal to them might not be normal to the rest of the nation.

"That's been around here for a long time," Reed said. "Probably since before I got here. … What's said around here to ourselves shouldn't be broadcast publicly. Because the public would never understand. Even fans here in Baltimore would never understand."

So while Reed was doing what he always does, the rest of the country was outraged.

"Yesterday they were doing it with ESPN," Reed said. "They showed what they wanted to show. But they only showed me reacting to the offense. They wanted to pub it even more."

Reed said that during the Sirius interview he criticized the entire team.

"It wasn't just Joe being criticized about how we played," Reed said. "We were critical of ourselves in that game. That's every teammate of mine talking about the that we watched on film. We weren't satisfied with our effort."

It doesn't hurt that Reed also was correct. Flacco's effort was, in fact, underwhelming. He spent the week before the game saying if Baltimore lost it would be his fault, then went out and barely completed 50 percent of his throws (14-for-27). The Ravens offense had 11 first downs and scored no points the final 46 minutes. There were many times Flacco looked … well … rattled.

Coach John Harbaugh said Reed's sentiments were OK, but not the way they were stated. Flacco was a bit taken aback, but said he and Reed talked.

"It didn't sound good," Flacco said on NFL Total Access before adding: "It's not a big deal."

Reed said Flacco came to him and said, "Bro, you know they're gonna run with it."

"Sure enough," Reed said, "you're running with it."

Those stories might not mesh, but with the Ravens it might be less of an issue than it is with other teams. Lewis has held teammates accountable from the day he was drafted. Reed has done the same, though he's usually not as vocal as Lewis. That approach has turned Terrell Suggs into the same kind of leader. They demand a certain level of effort and concentration.

It's Baltimore's culture, and it's no secret that the guys doing the talking are the most productive. Reed has eight interceptions in 10 playoff games, the highest in the league. Late in Sunday's game he had an interception to stop a Houston drive, then knocked the Texans last-chance pass. Something about walking the walk comes to mind.

Flacco has won five of eight playoff games, but in those games he has six touchdowns and seven interceptions. He's completed 53 percent, and averaged just 153 yards passing. He's had ups and downs, but when he's down he's really down. Against New England and Tom Brady's prolific scoring, the Ravens can't afford to have Flacco be down.

Said Reed: "He's our quarterback regardless."

Translation: We're counting on you, Joe.