Transitioning From a Legend

Daryl Smith

Ray Lewis is gone.

No longer will the Ravens have his leadership to look to during troubled times. No longer will he reset the defense during those waning pre-snap moments. No longer will he be there to inspire teammates before kickoff.

And perhaps the biggest reminder that the Ray Lewis Era is over will come on September 15 at 12:55 PM when No. 52 fails to emerge from the tunnel to Nelly’s “Hot in Here.”

The (squirrel) dance is over!

And a new era has begun.

Changes were made swiftly by the Ravens front office, seemingly before the sun set on that glorious February day in New Orleans. A Super Bowl title and the retirement of the game’s greatest middle linebacker ever, collectively provided the perfect opportunity for Ozzie Newsome & Co. to implement change.

The Ravens defense is younger and they are faster. They will eventually gel and be better than the defense that walked off the Superdome turf as champions. But it will take some time.

There’s no replacing Ray Lewis. His iconic level may never be approached again here in Baltimore or in any city for that matter. The transition can be difficult and emotional for fans of the team. But replacing an icon wasn’t the front office’s ambition when they tackled the challenges of this offseason. Their goal was just to improve the position on the field that Lewis occupied.

Mission accomplished!

Daryl Smith, the free agent linebacker acquired to play the “Mike” will play the position in 2013 better than the way Ray Lewis played it in 2012 or even 2011 for that matter. We won’t see the demonstrative celebrations but what we will see is a professional with excellent technique capable of engaging and shedding blockers to take down ball carriers, blitzing inside the tackles and providing cover skills that long ago escaped Lewis.

If defensive coordinator Dean Pees wants to go with a sub package in obvious passing situations, he’ll be able to pull the “Mike” and go with nickels, dimes and quarters without hesitation or fear of replacing the once ever-present No. 52.

Smith doesn’t even want to engage the silly notion of “replacing” Ray Lewis yet he does appear humble and honored to be part of a winning organization with an established standard of excellence when it comes to defense.

“Definitely, but I don’t really think about all that [talk about replacing Lewis]. My focus is playing football and getting better each day.”

As if that wasn’t challenging enough, Smith also tackles the role of mentor with workmanlike ambition. He’ll be counted on to provide tutelage to the inexperienced Josh Bynes and promising rookie Arthur Brown who has been compared favorably to Navarro Bowman.

“My personal job has always been the same: come in, work hard, help younger guys. My personal job will be the same. I’m very fortunate to be a Raven [and] be a part of this organization. With everything we’ve got going on – all the work we’re putting in – we’re really coming together. We’re just going to keep working and go into Thursday and put another good game together and see how it goes.”

We’ll also see how the journey of Smith’s season unfolds here in Baltimore. Will he make his mark as a mentor? Will he and the team look to extend his one-year deal or will this simply be a launching point to re-ignite Smith’s career after an injury-plagued season in Jacksonville?

For now, Smith seems focused on the task at hand and to contribute to a winning organization, one that seemed like the right fit for the accomplished linebacker from the start.

“You go somewhere and you get a feeling that it feels right”, Smith shared yesterday after practice.

“Just talking with some of the guys who have played here – some former teammates – [they said,] ‘Hey, you’re going to love [Baltimore].’”

And if early signs are any indication Baltimore is going to love him back.

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About Tony Lombardi

Tony Lombardi
Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan. A diehard Fab Four fan, Tony is a frustrated musician who thinks beating on the steering wheel is akin...more

7 Raves on “Transitioning From a Legend

  1. Rxdoxx on said:

    Smith knows revamping, 2010 had 6 new starters on the Panther D.

    And
    [quote] Just talking with some of the guys who have played here – some former teammates [/quote]

    I can only think of Haruki, and maybe OL coatch Matsko
    anyone else he could be talking about?

  2. JerryB on said:

    Ray Lewis may be one of the few irreplaceable players in the history of the game! But…..with the emphasis now on passing, the LB position is being redefined from proverbial run stopping to pass defense! In that regard, “transitioning from a legend” is not as daunting a task as it may have formerly been…….

  3. purpleneons on said:

    Red Light Ray is on too other things…….good luck to him.

    Daryl Smith is a definite upgrade over the Ray of the last 3/4 years. With the addition of Brown at the other backer spot, I look for those two positions as making the greatest leap in talent over last year.

  4. HollywoodHeiz on said:

    Ray Lewis 2013 playoff stats
    Colts 9 tackles 4 assists
    Broncs 10/7
    Pats 6/8
    Niners 4/3
    Here’s hoping that Daryl’s excellent technique, blitzing and pass coverage skills will equate to those type of numbers in the playoffs. Where the numbers really count.
    I always liked it when Ray was referred to as ” old man” and “over the hill”.
    The Man was a tackling machine. Looking forward to seeing what Mr Smith brings to the table.

    • spy on said:

      You obviously were watching Ray , the past few years , through your purple glasses,,,,,,,,,,while I agree he was a legend here and one of the greatest LBs I have ever seen , his time was up three years ago,,,,,,,,,he was just a shell of his old self and was not effctive , those stats were gifts…………

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