Photo Courtesy: USA Today

The No-Jimmy Smith Effect

September 14, 2018 - 11:47 am

By Austin Medina  

In the 34-23 loss to the Bengals, the Ravens came across a ton of question marks.

The biggest question mark on defense was the secondary. A secondary who looked dominant against the Bills looked lost against Cincy.

Especially with AJ Green.

Green caught five catches for 69 yards and a remarkable three touchdowns. Sure the Ravens had to put Marlon Humphrey on Green, but the reason why should irk the Ravens to no end.

We all know the NFL suspended cornerback Jimmy Smith for four game due to violating the Personal Conduct Policy.

What if Smith played in Thursday night’s loss and matched up with Green? This isn’t to say Smith would lock Green down. Far from it. In 2015, Green torched the shadowing Smith for 10 catches and 227 yards along with two touchdowns.

The point here, however, is simple. The Ravens have one of their best secondaries in years. They surely have the deepest. Humphrey is a rising cornerback, ranking in the top-five in lowest QB rating when thrown to, according to Pro Football Focus.

If Smith was playing, he could line up with Green one-on-one. With the depth that includes Humphrey, Brandon Carr, and two stingy safeties, the Ravens could have a grittier pass defense. They could give Green different looks or perhaps even have a cushion behind Smith. 

This is why the Smith suspension is crucial to the Ravens success, specifically in division. Think of Christmas 2016. When the Ravens faced off with the Steelers in a game that decided the division, Smith missed the game with a high-ankle sprain. Antonio Brown torched the Ravens in the fourth quarter, granting Pittsburgh the victory and the division crown.

The receiving core in division has gotten drastically better. JuJu Smith-Schuster is emerging as a number two receiving in Pitt. The Browns traded for Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry and the troubled Josh Gordon is healthy and playing. And finally, AJ Green speaks for himself. In five games since 2015, Green has six touchdowns.

Reliability for Jimmy Smith has been his biggest flaw. Whether it was his Achilles tear or his multiple suspensions, his inability to be on the field for key games has hurt the Ravens far more than we want to admit.

Smith will miss opportunities to match up with Demaryius Thomas and the Broncos. In week 4, the Ravens have a critical game against the Steelers, who have a better receiver in Antonio Brown.

Hopefully the performance by AJ Green provides the learning curve the young secondary needed. More importantly, when Smith does return hopefully he returns to his dominant form.

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