Does Harbaugh's Special Teams Background Lead To Ravens Injuries?

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 06: Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti (L) talks with Jimmy Smith #22 during training camp at M&T Bank Stadium on August 6, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

John Harbaugh has a background in Special Teams. To some, it was a surprise that he was hired to be the next head coach of the Baltimore Ravens over the more publicly heralded Rex Ryan. There is no question Harbaugh is a good coach but over his first few seasons the Ravens have sustained key injuries to players capable of starting while participating on Special Teams. This year's casualty is top draft pick Jimmy Smith.

I know, I know, I am beating a dead horse but people still seem to think that somehow it was the right move to have Jimmy Smith playing Special Teams. To me, the proof is in the tape. After the Ravens secondary was shredded two Sundays ago in Tennessee, it was painfully obvious that we have no one (healthy) on our roster capable of covering a top tier NFL receiver. By losing one player, Jimmy Smith, the Ravens entire secondary has been thrown out of whack.

The Ravens have been a very good team since Harbaugh took over but the one glaring weakness has been a shaky secondary riddled with injuries year after year. In 2009 it was Lardarius Webb, in 2010 it was Foxworth and this year Smith. Although Foxworth was not hurt on Special Teams, the other two were. This year Webb is still holding the duties of kickoff and punt returner despite the catastrophic consequences that would occur if he were to be injured. Not that Webb is a Pro-Bowler or anything but Baltimore is so thin at the corner position, is it smart to have a starter at a position in which you are thin in the line of fire? Especially when you have many other viable options on the roster...

The injury to Jimmy Smith caused a ripple effect throughout the Ravens secondary. Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano made it quite clear when Smith was drafted that he was brought in to cover the other teams top receiver, therefore putting Cary Williams on the #2 and Webb/Carr in the slot. Smith's injury forces everyone up a spot. Now Cary is covering a top flight receiver almost every week, while Webb and Carr are taken out of the slot where they have proven to be quite effective with their physical style. This has undoubtedly become the weakest point on this team as well as the thinnest.

I understand that you want the best players on the field at all times but we have plenty of players able to contribute on Special Teams but only one capable of being a top tier, shutdown corner. I also recognize the fact that these players could be injured on any play of any game or even walking down a flight of stairs for that matter. My point is, why put these guys in the line of fire if it can cripple a Super Bowl-caliber team?

I do not want to understate the importance of Special Teams but these players were drafted to play defense. Do we really want to risk our season for slightly better play on kickoffs? Don't get me wrong, I believe in John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome and all the Ravens coaching staff. What they say goes, but we can at least question authority can't we?

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