Josh Bush has trailed Reed ever since, watching him on the practice field and in meeting rooms and during one-on-one tutorials, like the three-hour session that changed the way he analyzes film. Bush does not address Reed by his first name. It is always Mr. Reed. When Bush encountered him in the cafeteria on Tuesday, the players’ day off, he asked when Reed would be reviewing film. Right now, Reed told him.
Bush ordered his lunch to go and off they went. They burrowed in the defensive backs’ room for three hours. Reed, 35, did a lot of talking. Bush, 24, did a lot of listening, and gawking. Bush says he is still amazed that Reed, after glancing at a formation, pointed at the safety on the screen and said he should be expecting a hitch route.
“He hit ‘Play’ on the film,” Bush said, “and sure enough, the receiver ran a hitch, and the quarterback threw it to him.”
What struck Bush was the way Reed dissected that tape. Basically, it is a progression that follows the practice schedule. Reed begins the week by studying all the passing plays the opponent has run on first and second down. He moves on to third down — third-and-short, third-and-medium, third-and-long — before advancing to the red-zone and two-minute offenses. If Reed wants to confirm his intuition, he told Bush, he will sometime watch an entire game again. Studying like a coach, Thurman called it.
“Before you come to work, come to work,” Reed told Bush.
Bush said that Reed, in their conversations about football, had focused mostly on the present. He has not, for instance, discussed the origins of his devotion to film study, which dates to high school, in Destrehan, La., and was refined in college, at Miami. Randy Shannon, his defensive coordinator with the Hurricanes, said in a 2012 interview that Reed could discern a route by the way a receiver positioned his hands.