There was once a time when the Baltimore Ravens defense struck fear into opposing fans everywhere. They hit hard, talked trash and shut down even the most potent of offenses.
While Father Time has reduced the effectiveness of certain key players, the injury bug has had a much more devastating impact.
Add Jimmy Smith to the ever-growing list of Baltimore Ravens' invalids.
Out of every position, the Ravens could least afford to take a hit at cornerback. Baltimore has already lost emerging star Lardarius Webb for the season to a torn ACL. To have to move forward without either of their top corners is just cruel.
But that's the current situation. So what can the Ravens do?
Blitz, a lot
Baltimore needs to find a way to disrupt the passing game before it gets started. And considering the fact that they don't have a top-20 pass-rusher (but they do have a bottom-20 player), the Ravens will need to blitz.
Then blitz some more.
The Ravens will not be able to hang with receivers downfield or contest when the ball is in the air until they get Jimmy Smith back. By blitzing, they could force some errant throws for Ed Reed to grab.
Otherwise, it's going to get ugly for the defense.
Score, a lot
The offense was going to carry the team if Baltimore wanted to contend this year. Nothing has changed.
Do you really need more explanation?
The Ravens started out well with a 7-2 record. That affords them a one-game lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers for the division title and a three-game lead in the Wild Card.
They just need to ride out the storm because Smith should be back before the playoffs. Considering they get the Steelers twice in the next three weeks, possibly without Roethlisberger, the opportunity is there to finish the division race early.
The injury to Jimmy Smith hurts, but it isn't fatal. Just follow the plan and everything will be okay.