There are lots of fun matchups to watch for on Monday night when the Ravens come to town. Lardarius Webb vs Calvin Johnson. Willy Young vs Michael Oher. Marshal Yanda vs Ndamukong Suh. All of those will be exciting, but none of them can single handedly make or break the Lions chances to win. That matchup honor goes to Torrey Smith against the Lions secondary.
If there’s one area where the Lions have been consistent this season it’s giving up big plays, and the combination of Torrey Smith’s 4.4 speed and Joe Flacco’s cannon of an arm should give the Lions some cause for concern heading into Monday night. According to Pro Football Focus, Joe Flacco is 10th in the league in deep pass attempts, throwing one on 14.4% of all passes. The good news for the Lions is that he’s only completing 28.6% of those deep passes. But my guess is that the Ravens will be more than willing to take their shots deep against the Lions.
In order to combat the Flacco-Smith combination the Lions cornerbacks will have to be physical with Smith at the line of scrimmage. If he’s given a free release off the line, he has the speed that none of the Lions active cornerbacks can match.
In week 4 against the Buffalo Bills Torrey Smith had 5 receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown. 74 of those yards came on this play. Here the Ravens are backed up deep into their own territory and decide to run a shot play with Smith running a deep vertical route. Cornerback Aaron Williams is lined up in what looks like press man coverage. The problem is that at the snap he bails out of his coverage.
Giving Smith a free release is a deadly mistake. The corner has to get physical and get him off of his mark to stand a chance. Without a jam at the line, Smith simply runs right by Williams and the deep safety.
By the time Flacco gets the ball to Smith he already has a 2-3 yard jump on Williams. Why do I feel like we’ve seen this image before?
The Lions secondary will be aided by their defensive line in this game, but they’re also going to have to stay disciplined in their technique if they want to succeed. Be sure to look out for how the Lions deal with Torrey Smith throughout the game. With the Ravens’ run game stalling this year, he’s the one guy that can kill the Lions’ playoff dreams.