Roquan Smith isn’t going to walk back comments he made before the Baltimore Ravens faced the Cleveland Browns in Week 4. In fact, Smith is standing by what he said after helping the Ravens beat their AFC North rivals 28-3 at Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday, October 1.
While some connected to the Browns took Smith’s pre-game comments to heart, the middle linebacker sent a message when speaking to reporters after the game, “honestly, if you need bulletin board material in this game, really? To like go play the game a different way? You playing the game for the wrong reasons.”
Smith’s no-nonsense commitment to doing his talking on the field paid off big during the Ravens’ most complete performance of this young 2023 NFL season. The 26-year-old led a Baltimore defense that exploited a Browns’ offense missing injured quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Smith Does Talking on the Field
Smith appeared to goad the Browns midweek when he said “I think they call it the dawg pound. I consider myself a dawg, so I’m right at home in that place.” He also stoked some controversy with phrases like “We going over to beat their tails in front of their wife and kids,” per WJZ Sports.
Naturally, more than one Browns player took exception to Smith’s comments at face value. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and defensive back Anthony Walker Jr. were among those to cite Smith’s comments as motivation and “locker room material,” according to Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.
Yet, it was Smith who had the last word once the game was played. The former Chicago Bears’ standout led the Ravens with 10 total tackles, including six solo stops, per ESPN. Smith also broke up a pair of passes and put a hit on Watson’s replacement, Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
After the game, head coach John Harbaugh hailed Smith as “honest” and “straightforward.” Harbaugh also pointed out how the leader of Baltimore’s defense “backs it up.”
The Ravens have quickly grown to appreciate Smith’s value both on and off the field since the franchise traded for him midway through last season. He’s wasted no time becoming a talisman at the heart of coordinator Mike Macdonald’s defense, earning first-team All-Pro honors in 2022.
Smith is building on that positive impression with a productive start to his first full season in a Ravens uniform.
Ravens’ Defensive Leader Still Playing at a High Level
Smith has fully embraced his role as the heartbeat of the Ravens’ front seven. He’s making plays in every phase, also helping himself to 1.5 sacks.
The Ravens aren’t afraid to put a lot on Smith’s plate because they know he can handle the responsibility. His veteran savvy has also helped improve those around him, including fellow inside linebacker Patrick Queen.
Having Smith call signals on the field is letting young players like Queen and second-year safety Kyle Hamilton make their share of splash plays. Every member of the trio thrived against the Watson-less Browns.
The combination of Smith leading the way and Queen and Hamilton raising their respective games, is shaping an otherwise banged-up Ravens’ defense into a fearsome unit. One tough enough to back up any trash talk.