Defensive tackles Jarran Reed and Sheldon Richardson have been causing trouble for opposing offenses up front, and Reed's development this offseason is a big reason why they've been so effective.
RENTON – Jarran Reed is a different player this year, and it’s starting to show.
In his second season with the Seahawks, the 6-foot-3, 306-pound defensive tackle has taken pains to transform his body.
Reed, Seattle’s second-round draft pick in 2016, started a self-imposed nutrition plan this offseason, cutting out all junk food and adding more vegetables and lean protein to his diet.
That means, “no burgers, hot dogs and pizza,” Reed lamented. “All the good stuff.”
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Instead, he’s consuming copious amounts of chicken, greens and healthy carbs.
“Gotta get your protein. It’s the food pyramid,” said Reed. “I did the diet myself, I looked up a lot of stuff just to try to better myself as a player and get myself better opportunities.”
Sticking to the diet has required some self-discipline, but it’s working for Reed, who says he lost 10 to 15 pounds and packed on some muscle this offseason. He says he has more energy now and feels more alert.
“My endurance is higher, I’m moving quicker and exploding off the ball,” Reed said.
As Seattle hosts the Houston Texans this Sunday, Reed is coming off the best game of his young career.
Reed had a career-high seven tackles against the New York Giants last week, and accounted for a key play at a critical juncture of the game.
With Seattle holding a 10-7 fourth quarter lead, and the Giants’ offense closing in on midfield, Reed sacked Eli Manning to force a fumble that Frank Clark recovered.
On the very next play, Russell Wilson connected with Paul Richardson on a 38-yard touchdown pass that put Seattle up 17-7.
That was the second full sack of Reed’s career. It showed what the young defensive tackle is capable of, and the Seahawks are starting to reap the benefits of his pairing with veteran tackle Sheldon Richardson, who was acquired in the Sept. 1 trade that sent Jermaine Kearse to the New York Jets.
“We don’t do a lot of fancy stuff. We do the plain stuff really well and we count on our guys to execute the heck out of it, and it has to start right inside, from the middle on out,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “That’s why we were really noting Jarran’s play. He played very well and so did Sheldon, and they just held it up, and when they play right, then the guys behind them can play right and it all fits together very tightly.”
Richardson and Reed have started every game this season for Seattle at defensive tackle, and they work well together, they say.
Richardson, the Pro Bowler, generally sees more double teams, as was the case against the Giants.
“Last week, I had a heavy load, a lot of double teams and triple teams that game, so (Reed) was the beneficiary of the work, and he got the results, all the tackles and TFLs and stuff like that,” Richardson said. “It makes us dominant on the inside, dominant on the outside. And when you control the line of scrimmage, you control the game.”
But in situations where offenses try to double up on Richardson, Reed vows to make teams pay.
“I know they can’t double team both of us because that’s gonna leave the ends open,” Reed said. “So you know, it goes hand-in-hand. We kinda help each other. We’re the Bash Brothers, 90 and 91, that’s a fierce duo on the inside.”
The “Bash Brothers” nickname, in case you wondered, comes from the Mighty Ducks ice hockey movies of the ’90s. Dean Portman and Fulton Reed, the original Bash Brothers, were the designated enforcers and the two most physical members of the team.
“I love that movie,” Richardson said, adding that he and Reed started hearing the nickname last week. “So we’re running with it.”
Some days, Reed marvels at the situation he lucked into when the Seahawks drafted him out of Alabama 49th overall in 2016. He went from playing for a perennial SEC powerhouse that won national championship in 2015 – Reed’s senior year – to playing for an NFC powerhouse that contends for a Super Bowl berth every year.
In both situations, Reed was part of an all-star cast of defensive linemen. At Alabama, fellow defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2016 three spots before the Seahawks took Reed. In 2017, defensive end Jonathan Allen was Washington’s first round draft pick and defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson went to the Giants in the second round.
In Seattle, he’s learning the ropes under Pro-Bowlers like Richardson, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. Throw third-year defensive end Frank Clark and newly acquired future Hall-of-Famer Dwight Freeney in the mix, and you could argue that Reed is now part of one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
“It’s really unbelievable sometimes, but it’s a blessing, an opportunity. We’ve got a great group of guys,” Reed said.
That’s why he took such pains to raise his game this offseason.
“It was (about) being accountable to my teammates in every aspect of my game,” Reed said. “That’s the best thing I can bring to the team – improving on my game.”
The work Reed has put in shows in more than just his on-field performance, his teammates say.
“He’s staying consistent, and (it’s been a) constant progression. He’s evolving as a football player, and he’s more of a student of the game now. And that’s just when I’ve been here,” said Richardson.
“The biggest thing about Jarran is just the leadership role he’s taken on,” Clark said. “He’s taken on a big leadership role. He’s starting to speak out more and let people know he wants to be here for the long haul.
“He’s doing the things you want to see out of those Year Two players – he’s (getting) here early, making sure he does things like take care of his body, just so he can do this week in and week out. Just the little things like that.”