Baltimore Ravens Big Surprises: Steve Smith, Justin Forsett


Sep 7, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith (89) celebrates with running back Justin Forsett (29) after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium. Cincinnati Bengals defeated Baltimore Ravens 23-16. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

One thing about the Baltimore Ravens’ season is their record: I predicted 10-6 at the beginning of the season, and they are now 5-3. The path to that mark, though, has been full of twists and turns.

Steve Smith was brought in as a complement to Torrey Smith. Justin Forsett was brought in as an afterthought. Yet that duo leads the team in receiving and rushing, respectively, with both on track for Pro Bowl seasons. That has been the biggest shock for the Ravens this season without a doubt. How did we get here?

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  • With Smith, the answer is pretty easy. He asserted himself early as the best receiver on the team. The chemistry with Joe Flacco was obvious, and he became a leader immediately. Steve Smith was always going to start, and he has just been better than anyone else on the team.

    Since asserting himself as the lead receiver in Week 1, Smith hasn’t looked back. He has been one of the best receivers in the league after the catch, ranking third among receivers in total YAC with 273 yards.

    The guy who struggled with injuries and a loss of speed last year in Carolina has disappeared. In his place is an explosive, strong and tenacious receiver who has been among the NFL’s best through eight games. If Smith can keep it up, the Ravens’ offense will be much better off for it, as no other receiver has looked to be a threat this season.

    For Forsett, the road has been more winding. Bernard Pierce entered the regular season as the expected starter, but after Pierce was benched in Week 1, Forsett immediately asserted himself with 70 yards and a touchdown. The following week, Pierce again started, and this time, he was the lead ball carrier. The following week, it was Lorenzo Taliaferro, though Forsett was again productive. After producing 97 total yards and a touchdown against Carolina, though, the Ravens were forced to accept that Forsett was their best back.

    In the past three games, Forsett has averaged 18 carries a game. There is no doubt any more that Forsett is the featured guy. In the same time frame, Forsett has gained 274 yards, and average of 91.3 yards per game on the ground.

    He has done it without flash. Forsett has great vision and has picked up what the line blocks for him and usually a little extra. Forsett has not broken ankles. Instead, he has gotten by with a slippery and efficient style. He is tough to bring down in traffic, a trait that when paired with the Ravens’ great blocking has resulted in some quality rushing performances.

    The Ravens should watch Forsett’s work load, as he doesn’t even crack the 200-pound barrier. With some extra doses of Lorenzo Taliaferro, who has also looked good, the Ravens should continue to pound the ball effectively. Who would have thought we’d be saying that?

    Think of how awful the Ravens’ ground game was last year. Who would have

    All in all, the duo of Smith and Forsett has worked out pretty well, possible the best duo of free agent signings in the league offensively. It’s been a fun ride with these two vets leading the way. Now, just hope they keep their improbable dominance going.