The 5 o’clock club is published several times per week during the season, and aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
I forget sometimes that a lot of NFL relationships between players go back a long way. One high profile example is the reunion this season of former teammates Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Junior, who played together at LSU. I hadn’t realized that Jordan Reed had two former college teammates playing with him on the Redskins in cornerback Quinton Dunbar and linebacker Jon Bostic, both of whom were on the Florida Gators football team with him — Bostic was his teammate for 4 years.
This week, The Athletic wrote a detailed article about Reed, his preseason concussion, and the concern expressed to him by his two long-time teammates, who insist that Jordan Reed was poised to have a great season in 2019.
Jordan Reed wasn’t even supposed to be in the game. His evening against the Atlanta Falcons was supposed to conclude after Washington’s second drive stalled. But, see, the drive stalled because he dropped Case Keenum’s pass on 3rd-and-6 from the 48-yard-line. He was visibly upset after the play. He clapped his hands together in frustration because he knew he should have made the reception.
So no, he wasn’t going out like that. That wouldn’t be his last play of the preseason, and he lobbied former coach Jay Gruden to let him go in for one more series. Just one more. Allow him to make up for his mistake, and he could come out of the game without that drop hanging over his head. Up to this point, Gruden and the coaching staff had been extra careful with Reed — they gave him all the time he needed to recover from the toe injury that hampered his 2018 campaign, allowed him veteran rest days during training camp and held him out of the team’s first two preseason games.
But what could one more series hurt? Reed wasn’t going to play in the team’s preseason finale, so Gruden relented. Three minutes later, after a quick three and out by Falcons, a Derrius Guice run and an incomplete pass to Cam Sims, it was 3rd-and-7 from the 26. Reed lined up wide right, stutter-stepped to freeze the linebacker covering him and then broke inside where his two teammates had cleared out space running their routes. Keenum delivered a timely ball on the slant, Reed secured the catch, picked up 10 yards and the first down as his defender wrapped him up around the legs.
Like seeing Jordan Reed align outside of a trips side, pretty new look for the #Redskins. Wins with a quick slant, makes up for the earlier drop, making a tough catch through contact which draws a flag. pic.twitter.com/dYATjsZLPW— Mark Bullock (@MarkBullockNFL) August 23, 2019
As Reed was starting to stumble and go to the turf, the Falcons’ Keanu Neal came barreling in. Neal dropped his head and spearheaded the left side of Reed’s helmet. The hit was so vicious, it made Reed’s helmet pop off. But Reed maintained control of the ball, popped up, and spun the ball to show everyone in Mercedes Benz Stadium and watching that he was fine. He even stayed in the game a little while longer before halftime. But during the break, he started showing concussion symptoms, and the medical staff placed him in the concussion protocol.
I’ve tended to have more faith in Reed than most Redskins fans on Hogs Haven, generally believing that he would be able to “get right” at some point and play a 15 or 16 game season. Based on reports from training camp, I felt like 2019 might be the year that Jordan matched his 2015 performance and returned to being the centerpiece of the Redskins offensive attack.
Anything — good or bad — could have happened if Reed had not played that series or if Keanu Neal hadn’t blasted him with a dirty hit in that preseason game, but I lean toward all the positive ‘what if’s’ of Reed potentially having the best season of his career. Others will say that a Jordan Reed injury was inevitable - that if it wasn’t a concussion in the preseason, it would have been a shoulder or a wrist or ankle or knee in the regular season.
Regardless of what you or I believe, his teammates see Jordan as a tough football player who works hard and deserves better than he got from Keanu Neal.
Jordan Reed took a BIG shot to the head from Keanu Neal.— Chad Ryan (@ChadwikoRCC) August 23, 2019
15 yard penalty.
Oof. Not the kind of contact you want to see guys taking, especially in preseason.
(Reed popped straight up and was fine.)#Redskins pic.twitter.com/aNVpFbriOk
“That’s Jordan, man,” Quinton Dunbar said. “He’s the ultimate competitor. Probably one of the highest competitors I know, and he definitely wasn’t supposed to be back up in there, but him being that competitor, that’s what he wanted to do.”
Teammates with Reed all four of their years together at Florida, Bostic said he wish people knew how much Reed prepared to set up his career. Not just in the NFL, he’s talking way before the pair became pros. Bostic recalled meeting Reed when they were 17, 18 years old when he came to Gainesville, Fla. as a quarterback. The coaches told him he’d have to wait a while if he stayed at that position, and they offered him a faster path onto the field if he switched to tight end.
Bostic and Reed’s other Gator teammates implored him to stay at QB, but he ended up making a move over and then learning from Aaron Hernandez. Reed’s biggest takeaway from his fellow tight end was Hernandez’s route running, so he asked members of the video department to make a reel of all of Hernandez’s routes, and then Reed proceeded to sit in a room and study him. He’d watch the same route, over and over and over again, Bostic said.
“It’s crazy because I know I watch film like that, and not a lot of people watch film like that, but he watches,” Bostic said. “He watches the same route over and over. Next thing you know, boom, and he goes to the field and then runs the same out route 50 times over. ‘I’m like, bro, why don’t you run another route.’ (laughter) But that’s just how he wanted to perfect it. And now that route has turned into one of his best routes. That option route, you don’t know if he’s going in or out.”
“The type of work ethic he had, it was ridiculous,” Bostic said. “For me, I watch a lot of film, and for him, he would be in the facilities on Saturdays, Sunday, whatever, off days. He’d run the same out route, over and over and over again. It’s just like, ‘Jordan, go home. You’re going to run your body into the ground. That’s how he is. He’s a workaholic when it comes to that stuff. It’s definitely paid off.
Jordan Reed has always seemed magician-like to me in his ability to get open, secure the catch, and turn upfield for extra yards. I used to focus on him sometimes when I would replay a Redskins game on Game Pass. He often jogged up to a defender with his hands balled in fists — almost like a caricature of a football player — drive his feet quickly, left, right, left, right, as if he were running in place, all the while moving his hips, shoulders and head from side to side, suddenly breaking either right or left and running away from the defender, often with 4 or 5 yards of separation...the perfect target for the quarterback.
He made it look so easy, but Bostic’s comments help make it clear that Reed’s abilities were the result of incredible work ethic and dedication.
I think most Redskins fans are aware of what an incredible loss it is to the Redskins offense when Reed is unavailable — a situation that has been far too frequent in Reed’s career.
At the same time, I think most fans recognize that playing football is just a job for NFL players, and that no job is worth the potential damage that Reed seems to be inviting by continuing to play. His latest concussion is at least the 7th documented concussion that we know of, and Reed has admitted in the past that he has lied about concussion symptoms in an effort to continue playing.
In the Athletic article, Bostic and Dunbar talked about their concern for Jordan Reed’s health and well-being.
“I could care less about football,” [Dunbar] stated. “I care for him as a brother; nothing has changed. He not on the football field, but we still talk, hang out and chill. So that’s the most important thing for me — not football. I care more for him as a person than for us as teammates on the football field, because that’s not more important.
Football don’t last forever, so he has three beautiful kids, and I feel like he’s taking that into consideration now, and that’s just the best thing for him.”
The article talks about how Reed had committed to changing his training and diet to be better able to withstand the rigors of an NFL season. The 29-year-old changed his diet and got himself leaner to play in 2019. He poured in hours of work to return from last season’s nagging toe injury, and in his conversations with Bostic said he finally felt like he was returning to his 2015 form when he caught 87 passes for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns over 14 games, which are all career highs.
“I think he was going to be in for really a special year,” Bostic said. “It kinda sucks that that one play turned it a little bit that’s just tough, especially when you’re knowing somebody for so long, knowing the type of work that they put in. I know how it is, I’ve gotten hurt, and he’s dealt with his share of injuries, so you want to finally be able to prove to somebody that you’re healthy and not injury prone and that you can still do the same things you’re capable of. I think him leaning out and getting healthy; they were going to see an even better tight end than what they had seen even before. That’s how special I think he is of a player.
“I know he was finally starting to feel like himself. I know he had told me that in training camp multiples times. He was like, ‘Man, I feel good. I really do. I feel good. I really feel explosive. I really feel like my old self again.’ And I saw it with his routes and everything. Even after the catch how he was finishing. After catches, you saw that speed; you saw that burst again. He was making plays after the catch.”
Fellow tight end Jeremy Sprinkle chimed in with a few comments about Reed and what it has meant for him to suffer the preseason concussion.
“He’s looked good and then gets hurt in the preseason,” Sprinkle said. “Then all the outside noise saying he’s injury prone and things like that. I just feel bad for him, and that’s my brother, and I love him. It’s tough to see that. … It’s not like it’s a soft tissue injury or something like that. It’s something you can’t control, and the mind is a weird thing. Just trying to keep his spirits up. It’s really emotional for him and the things he has to go through.”
Bostic and Dunbar, his college teammates, say that they are keeping in touch with Reed, both out of concern for him, and to help him feel connected to the team.
Bostic just texted him last week, saying there’s a balance, because you don’t always want to bring it up, but you also don’t know what he’s going through, so you also want to reach out every now and then.
“A little text can go a long way,” he said. “Sometimes, just to say, ‘Hey, man, you just gotta get around, smile a little bit, and have a good time with your boys,’ because that stuff can go a long way. I’ve been there. I know it. I know the pain he’s going through. … I know it’s hard to keep him away from the game. I know it’s tough to keep him away from practice. I know he wants to be out there. I know him, he’s watching the game every Sunday.”
When asked how he’s been doing, Dunbar said, “He’s good. He has peace.”
Some people have suggested that if a player is flagged for a dirty hit that injures an opposing player, then the one who delivered the dirty hit should be suspended for as long as the injured player is unable to play. Would you support this sort of rule?
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After Jordan Reed is able to clear the concussion protocol, would you like to see him return to play for the Redskins again?
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