After years of relying on an often conservative, run-first offensive attack, the Baltimore Ravens are suddenly one of the NFL’s top passing offenses.
Joe Flacco threw for more than 350 yards for the second straight game in Baltimore’s 23-16 win over Cleveland on Thursday night and the fifth-year starter is on pace to shatter his career marks in nearly every statistical category.
But the biggest beneficiary of Flacco’s new freedom is Torrey Smith.
The explosive second-year wide receiver caught six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown against the Browns and is establishing himself as one of the NFL’s top deep threats.
Through four games, Smith has 16 receptions for 332 yards and three touchdowns. As the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson points out, the former Maryland Terrapin is now on pace for a 64-catch season with 1,328 yards and 12 touchdowns. Not too shabby.
That yardage total would have landed him sixth among all wide receivers in yards last season and fourth in touchdowns. And while Smith’s production is likely to regress somewhat, those numbers are not out of the realm of possibility — especially if the big plays keep coming. He already has catches of 52, 40, 38 and 34 yards.
It’s been an emotional week for Smith, who played in Baltimore’s Sunday night game against New England only hours after his younger brother died in a motorcycle crash in Northern Virginia. But Smith produced the second-best game of his young career with six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-30 win.