When Jimmy Smith is on the field the Ravens have an excellent secondary. Unfortunately for John Harbaugh, that won’t be the case to start the 2018 campaign.
The Ravens aren’t a team with a large margin of error heading into the 2018 season. One injury could turn them from a fringe playoff contender to a bottom dweller. The same can also be said for an ill-timed suspension.
That’s just what Baltimore is facing with the news that cornerback Jimmy Smith will miss the first four games of the season due to a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. Specifically, the NFL claims Smith exhibited “threatening and emotionally abusive behavior toward his former girlfriend.” Evidence of Smith’s misconduct arose during a trial regarding the custody of he and the aforementioned ex-girlfriend’s son. Reports claim that issue has been resolved.
Obviously the most important issue here is for Smith to get the help he needs to improve his behavior in the future. The Ravens are requiring him to undergo counseling before he returns to the team. In the meantime, Harbaugh and company will scramble to make up for his absence on the field.
Last year, Smith and Brandon Carr gave the Ravens’ defense an excellent foundation to build from. The offense was pretty ugly, but the defense continued to play at a high level. A big part of the team’s ability to rush the passer was their trust in Smith and Carr to hold up in one-on-one matchups.
In particular, Smith was the guy who was assigned to the top opposing wide receiver most weeks. That duty is going to have to fall to Carr during the first four games of the season. Expect 2017 first round pick Marlon Humphrey to move to the other side while Smith is ineligible. He played a lot of football in the slot last season, but he’s got the physical skills to play good football on the outside. He isn’t going to produce Smith’s level of play, but he shouldn’t be a disaster.
The real trouble is going to happen in the slot. Humphrey’s absence there will likely push Tavon Young into extended playing time. The team likes his upside, but he has a long way to go before he proves he’s worthy of playing a high number of snaps in the NFL.
The Smith injury doesn’t doom Baltimore’s entire season, but it reduces their very small margin of error to almost nothing. The Ravens can’t afford to suffer from any more injuries or suspensions before the regular season begins. If they do, Smith’s reckless behavior will really end up damaging their postseason hopes.