D.J. Reed is a fine professional cornerback for the Jets. But he could have gone into a few other fields and excelled as well, such as marketing, and definitely, as even he says, as a talent scout.
Exhibit A for D.J.: Patrick Mahomes.
Reed and the Jets are preparing to take on Mahomes and Kansas City at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night. But D.J. first got to know Mahomes real well seven years ago, when he was a Kansas State corner prepping for a Big 12 encounter with Mahomes and Texas Tech.
"I should be an evaluator," Reed told newyorkjets.com's Eric Allen this week about that matchup. "I remember that week watching the film, and I'm like, 'This guy's different.' We had Baker [Mayfield] in our conference, who is a good player, and other quarterbacks. But Pat was just, in my opinion, on a different tier. Watching his film, just the throws he was making — he was doing stuff that was abnormal, that I hadn't seen from a quarterback. So during that week, I watched a lot more film just to be ready for him."
Reed described his big play that day, saying he and his safety disguised their Cover-2 and he suspected Mahomes thought they were in a different coverage. Reed dodged a wideout block, went for the interception in the flat and took it 35 yards to the crib. That score was as good as any other candidate for a winning touchdown that day in the Wildcats' seesaw 44-38 win over the Red Raiders and Mahomes, who threw for a mere 504 yards in the loss.
What does this have to do with Sunday night's game? Not a lot, other than that Reed is one of the few DBs who knows what a pick-six against Mahomes feels like and no doubt was imparting that information to Sauce Gardner and the rest of the Jets secondary this week. After all, Showtime has only thrown three pick-sixes in his sixth season as the Chiefs starter, including this year's unfortunate dropped pass by KC wideout Kadarius Toney tipped into the hands of Lions rookie CB Brian Branch for a 50-yard TD return in their opener.
But even though Reed's scouting report suggests the Jets have little margin for error if they hope to hang a home primetime defeat on the Grim Reaper and the Chiefs, he's all in for the challenge.
"I love it, man. I see it as a great opportunity for us," he said. "I was telling the young guys that playing on Sunday Night Football is the best, in my opinion. I think it's better than Monday Night Football. It's something about Sunday night, I don't know, just the football atmosphere, you're the nighttime game. It's something I look forward to, especially playing against Patrick Mahomes."
And maybe you can hear a little bit of Reeds' marketing instincts, providing NBC some patter if the SNF network needs to beat back the competition from MNF on ABC and ESPN. Just dial up No. 4 in green and white and he'll riff on it for you.
Reed also had some fine lines about playing in primetime in front of the Jets fans again, even if the players didn't feel the love as much against the Patriots as they did during their opening-night overtime comeback success against the Bills.
"We need the fans," he said. "I know the frustration, everything that's happened to us these last three games. But we definitely need the fans there, especially playing at home because we have away games, too, where everybody's against us. The first game was probably the most electric I've heard MetLife — or 'JetLife' — Stadium, so we definitely need the fans there."
D.J. saved his best Pro Football Hall of Fame presenter-worthy turns of phrase for last in returning to the scouting subject of Mahomes. He called him "the best quarterback in the league" and a "unicorn" when he spoke with Jets media after Thursday's practice, and with Eric Allen he had a few other choice descriptors.
"He's just a great quarterback. There's nothing on the field he can't do. He's very smart, he's a gamer," Reed said, adding with a chuckle, "He could be the TBE when he's done."
That initialism of course stands for The Best Ever, a welcome alternative to GOAT. And if the Jets defense and team can get back on track and hand Mahomes and the Chiefs a road loss, that would likely qualify in Reed's book as a different kind of TBE, until a bigger victory comes along.
See photos of the Jets during Thursday's practice in preparation for the Chiefs on Sunday night.