Green Bay Packers

The Importance Of Jarran Reed's Reliability

Photo Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In evergreen fashion, opponents have consistently used the run game to shred the Green Bay Packers’ defense this season, including offering up a historically awful performance against the NFC-leading Philadelphia Eagles.

But give credit where it’s due. Since the Eagles kicked their butts, Green Bay’s run defense has mostly mellowed out. While Team Rankings has them as the 27th-ranked run defense on the season, with an average of 144.4 rushing yards per game, that number has decreased to an average of 103 per game over the last three games.

After allowing a few big runs early to Raheem Mostert on Christmas, Green Bay shored up and allowed only 82 rushing yards. A career day from defensive tackle Jarran Reed was a big part of this success. Reed had his best game of the season on Christmas and has emerged as a reliable partner for Kenny Clark. He’ll need to continue being his reliable self for the Packers to make a playoff push.

Get Kenny Clark some help was a long-standing mantra for Green Bay fans, and it was a relief when they signed Reed. A reliable defender in his Seattle Seahawks days, Reed struggled in his lone season with the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Packers nabbed him on a cheap one-year, $1 million deal.

Once again, Brian Gutekunst has struck gold with a thrifty veteran deal, and Reed has been a solid No. 2 defensive lineman. He hasn’t missed a game yet in Green Bay and hasn’t missed a game in general since 2019. Reed’s 61.6 PFF grade is his highest since 2018. He leads the Packers’ defensive line with 11 QB hits.

Clark had an uncharacteristic slump in November, but he’s been back to his dominant December self, which always elevates his supporting cast. That helped Reed, of course, who had a formidable game against the Miami Dolphins.

While the Green Bay defense’s three fourth-quarter interceptions stole the show, Reed’s forced fumble and recovery after the Packers’ embarrassingly bad fake punt was a true momentum-changer. Reed finished the day with one sack, two quarterback hits, and six total tackles. He was PFF’s second-highest-graded defender on the team with an 89.9 grade, just .01 shy of Preston Smith, and led the Green Bay defense in pressures. Reed was a big factor in limiting the run game and assisting the pass rush.

The Packers need Reed to keep elevating his play in these final regular-season games. It’s no secret that Green Bay’s pass rush hasn’t been the same since losing Rashan Gary, and the run defense has been leaky most of the year. The Packers’ last two opponents are divisional rivals, the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions, and both feature powerful offenses.

Green Bay lost their previous matchups with both rivals. They looked unprepared against Minnesota in Week 1, and the offense laid an egg against Detroit’s league-worst defense. Reed had pedestrian days in those matchups. He had four total tackles, one tackle for loss, and no QB hits against the Vikings. And he had two tackles and one QB hit against Detroit.

Reed will need to play a significant role in limiting Dalvin Cook and the Vikings’ rushing attack on Sunday. Cook hasn’t been quite the same player he was in the last few seasons, but he still averaged 4.5 rushing yards per carry and put up 90 rushing yards against the Packers in Week 1.

The Packers also need all the help they can get in the pass-rush department. Cousins has been particularly shifty against the Packers, who can get out of pressure and make completions even with defenders in his face. Green Bay only sacked Cousins once in Week 1.

Without much depth on the edge, pressure will need to come from the interior. With Clark often double-teamed, Reed and the rest of the defensive line need to win their battles and help terrorize Cousins. Justin Jefferson is the biggest threat on the Vikings’ offense, duh, so making Cousins’ life a living hell will be vital to minimizing the star receiver’s impact.

After a mostly terrible year, we’re seeing signs of life from the Green Bay defense. Their star players are starting to look like themselves again, but reliable role players like Reed will make or break their overall efforts. Reed has had an incredible stretch of play during this winning streak, and the Packers will count on him heavily in these final two games.

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