37-Year-Old WR Can Still Get it Done
If there is one thing we know about Steve Smith Sr., it’s that he is as tough as nails. He’s a warrior, a premier trash-talker, and one of the greatest wide receivers in the history of the NFL. He needs to average just over 40 yards per game for the remainder of the season to jump from 10th to 7th on the all-time receiving yards list. To take it a bit further, 66 yards per game will push him up to sixth place and a seemingly impossible 92 YPG to finish the year would land him in the top three.
Unfortunately for Steve, he has totaled just 83 yards combined over the first two weeks despite trailing only Dennis Pitta in targets. On the first drive of the second half last week in Cleveland, Smith caught passes on consecutive plays, racking up 50 yards on two catches. Aside from that, he’s been relatively ineffective thus far.
Before the year began, Twitter was full of people (mostly Steelers fans) claiming that Mike Wallace is “washed up” and that the Ravens signed a player far beyond his prime. Nobody would dare say something like that about Smith, who has long been the bully nobody has the guts to stand up to. It wouldn’t end well…
— Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) May 12, 2015
Ironically, it’s been Mike Wallace who has led the passing attack so far, tallying 132 yards over the first two weeks and catching all three of Joe Flacco‘s touchdown passes, while Smith looks more like the washed up veteran. Of course, Smith’s presence is still felt, as he got into scuffles with both Ronald Darby and Stephon Gilmore in Week One and with Browns corner Jamar Taylor last week.
Spoiler alert: the old guy won them all.
Smith, at 37, still has as much passion for the game of football as he’s always had. He gets into teammates’ faces on the sideline and does the same to every defensive back that crosses his path.
Steve Smith: “If you're not in the same jersey as me, I plan to rip you to shreds.” https://t.co/sJ3cjj7zSr
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 18, 2016
Senior’s value to the Baltimore Ravens comes more from his passion than from his football abilities. Down by three scores against the Browns on Sunday, Smith fired up his teammates on the sideline, using “a lot of bleeps” as he took control of his squad and helped to inspire a comeback victory on the road.
Every team needs the type of player who makes everyone around him better. Steve Smith Sr. is that guy for the Ravens. He makes Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman and Dennis Pitta better receivers. He makes Joe Flacco a better quarterback. And I’m certain that guys like Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright would credit much of their improvement to the constant reps against Smith in practice. So, while his numbers might not help your fantasy team very much, his presence is surely felt.
Speaking of his numbers, I’m willing to bet that Smith’s statistics from the first two weeks are nothing more than a fluke. Defenses are now going to be forced to pay more attention to Mike Wallace and Dennis Pitta after their big performances last week. That will allow for more one-on-one coverage against Smith, who thrives in those situations.
While eight catches over two weeks is not all that encouraging, the fact that he has 15 targets certainly is. Sooner or later, those targets will turn into receptions and surely he will haul in his fair share of touchdowns.
As I finish this article, I’m starting to think that a hotter take may have been that Steve Smith IS washed up, but I’m not sure I could convince myself of that.
I also enjoy having my front teeth and my dignity.