Baltimore Ravens second-year cornerback Jimmy Smith was viewed as a high-risk, high-reward player coming out of the Colorado Buffaloes in the NFL Draft a couple of years ago. Although we didn’t see much success from Smith overall this season he stepped up in a huge way in the Super Bowl with some clutch plays at the end of the game and two defended passes in an excellent day in coverage as well. Smith stepped up and played the best game of his career on the biggest stage of his career thus far, and there is nothing a cornerback loves more than having a day when he is astute in coverage and makes plays on the ball of his own; especially when it comes in the Super Bowl.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has taken notice of Smith’s prowess in the Super Bowl, and he was quick to praise Smith. Here is what he told the Baltimore Sun, “He finally got healthy at the end of the year there. He was at his best in the last couple weeks. Jimmy is going to be, like we said all along, a great player in this league. I love him. He’s really special.”
“Really special.” That’s what resonates in my mind from the quote, and it’s amazing to see a young player burst out in the Super Bowl even after having what was, to put it bluntly, a poor year in coverage. To be fair, Smith did struggle with injuries this season, and that was probably the reason for his subpar year. Smith was excellent as a rookie and showed plenty of promise with some excellent coverage ability (allowed a QB Rating of just 62.9) and solid work in run defense.
However, Smith allowed an 85.5 QB Rating this year and had some lapses in run defense with eight total missed tackles. But that has all been forgiven after Smith’s great game in the Super Bowl. And boy, was he amazing. I mean, he had more passes defended (two) than catches allowed (one for a very meager six yards to a tight end), and the 49ers only bothered throwing it at him three times because his coverage was so tight.
Let’s see if Smith can translate this huge momentum to the 2013 season and have a breakout year in the all-important third year of his career. If Harbaugh’s comments are any indication, he has the full support and thankfulness from the organization for his clutch play. Like Devin McCourty did this season for the New England Patriots, I’m betting Smith has a bounce-back season in year three that sees him play much closer to his rookie year than his less-than-stellar sophomore campaign in the regular season.
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