Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Za’Darius Smith Named AFC Defensive Player of the Week

October 18, 2018 - 5:57 am

By Joe Schiller

You won’t find a more dominant defensive performance than what the Baltimore Ravens did in their 21-0 shutout win over the Tennessee Titans last Sunday.

The Ravens' defense held Marcus Mariota and company to 106 total yards and eclipsed a franchise-record 11 sacks. Za’Darius Smith was a huge contributor in the efforts - totaling five sacks and three tackles.

So it’s no surprise that the fourth-year outside linebacker earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for this performance.

Through six games, Smith has already reached his career-high sack total with 5.5 and he’s doing it in a contract year. He was tabbed as a bubble player the past two seasons but has broke out at the optimal time.

With the premier pass rush talent in Terrell Suggs and Matt Judon up front, Smith is stealing the show with a fantastic season so far.

It’s fantastic for the Ravens in the present, but it makes for an interesting predicament in the offseason if Smith continues this production. He’s slated to be an unrestricted free agent and much like Paul Kruger, the stock couldn’t be much higher.

The front office will be forced to make a tough decision on a talented pass rusher and it doesn’t get any easier with C.J. Mosley in the same boat. Suggs is in his final years, Judon is a proven commodity while Tim Williams has shown promise. Tyus Bowser has struggled to see playing time in his second year. 

The Ravens generally don’t open up the checkbooks for players like Smith and it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out over the course of the season.