Can the Baltimore Ravens Survive Without Jimmy Smith?


Oct 12, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith (22) celebrates after intercepting the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams battle numerous injuries every season, this is simply the ugly reality of playing a physical sport.  The Ravens have certainly not been immune to the injury bug this season, dating back to a handful of players lost from the start of training camp on. But while the loss of unknown entities such as rookie Brent Urban are only minor speed bumps on the road to success, losing a player like Jimmy Smith threatens to derail the Raven’s season completely.

If you had asked any Ravens fan at the beginning of the season what players the team absolutely could not afford to lose, 100% would likely have responded with Joe Flacco and Jimmy Smith.  Easily the MVP of the defense, Smith has been the only competent player in the backfield this season, and it isn’t even close.  While the Ravens skated by, week after week, with only one good corner, the outcome of their Sunday Night Football game in Pittsburgh is brutally clear proof that this team is in big trouble.

The remarkable turnaround of the Steelers and the equally remarkable implosion of the Bengals are definitive proof that things can and do change in a hurry in the modern day NFL.

Not every opponent is going to make history against this woeful secondary (at least we hope not), and obviously there will be better days.  But looking ahead at the schedule, fans have every right to worry.  After taking on rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger and the Titans at home this week, the Ravens face the Saints and Drew Brees in New Orleans, host Phillip Rivers and the Chargers, and travel to Miami to face a red hot Ryan Tannehill.

Following a Bengals loss to the Browns Thursday night, the Ravens are very much still in the playoff hunt as they remain a mere one game behind both the Browns and the Steelers despite being in last place.  It’s far too early to count out a team that has shown a great deal of adversity in the past, especially this early in the season.  The remarkable turnaround of the Steelers and the equally remarkable implosion of the Bengals are proof that things can and do change in a hurry in the modern day NFL.

More from Ebony Bird

We have already contemplated whether or not the Ravens improved their roster by cutting Chykie Brown and Dominique Franks, replacing them with Danny Gorrer and Tramain Jacobs.  They have, at the very least, gotten better on paper, though the real results will surface after the next four games or so.  Both at least know the system and have more upside than Brown and Franks, two players who have demonstrated their ceiling as NFL players to this point.

The other good news on the player evaluation front is Dean Pee’s acknowledgement that Will Hill will remain a starter going forward.  Safety play has arguably been even worse than the Raven’s corner production this year, so an infusion of talent should pay dividends.  If nothing else, Hill is a huge upgrade in coverage for the Raven’s secondary and he has demonstrated elite ball hawking skills in the past, a phase of the game they have been sorely lacking in.

Even though the Ravens only have themselves to blame for their secondary woes by coming into the season with a thin and questionable group of guys, all is certainly not lost.  They seem to have acknowledged their failures on the personnel front and have sent a clear message of accountability on the field.  The Ravens have a golden opportunity to move forward and compete for a playoff spot right now, but they also have a high probability of a second half implosion.  The next four weeks will show us who this team is, and who they really want to be.