In the Ravens franchise’s inaugural year of 1996, wide receiver Michael Jackson recorded 1,201 receiving yards. His record has stood since, a whopping 16 years.
Jackson may not be the king anymore after Sunday’s game.
In his third season,
“I guess it would be cool to break it, but I feel like I should have already done it,” Smith said. “It’s moreso about what I left out there than what I’ve done.”
Smith has, in many ways, broken out this year to become the top receiver the Ravens needed and fans have long desired.
He had nearly identical stats his first two years in the league (49 catches, 855 yards, eight touchdowns last season). Smith hasn’t found the end zone as often, a problem collectively with the offense this year, but he’s upped his numbers to 62 catches for 1,101 yards.
Yet it’s still not good enough for Smith.
Smith got out to a lightning-fast start this year and led the NFL in receiving yards after five weeks. He had two games at 92 yards receiving, 166 in Buffalo and 121 in Miami. But since then, he has topped 80 yards just once (against Pittsburgh).
There have been a few deep balls Smith hasn’t made plays on. He didn’t hold on to one to start the game against New England last Sunday, for example. A better throw could have been an easy touchdown, but Smith still got his mitts on the ball.
Smith feels like he could have “easily” recorded 1,500 receiving yards this season.
“It’s just making plays,” Smith said. “When the ball is thrown, I’ve got to make a play. The more you make, the more yards I make. I’ve had chances, it’s just about executing and finishing for us. The numbers add up and statistics come with wins.”
Teams have adjusted to Smith’s breakout. He used to get consistent coverage trying to take away his deep game. But now that the speedster has added more to his repertoire, teams are mixing up their coverages on him while also often assigning their top cornerback to him.
“Teams are forcing a guy that runs that fast, runs that well, and has caught as many balls as he’s caught [to do other things],” Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell said. “As a result of that, it requires that he goes out and adds something to his game – which he’s been able to do, week-in and week-out.”
Now it’s a question of whether Smith can do enough to eclipse Jackson’s record on Sunday. Smith had five catches for 46 yards against the Bengals in Week 10.
“If it doesn’t happen this year, it’s definitely going down,” Smith said. “Seriously.”