Baltimore Ravens: Who Is The Team MVP?

By jeffreykryglik
Andrew Weber – USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in the 2013 NFL season, I wrote about why Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker should be the team’s MVP. You can’t convince me otherwise as he has been the most consistent performer on this roster week in and week out. Sure, he doesn’t play as much and is only used in certain situations, but the second-year kicker is virtually automatic in those situations.

To be fair, I must give an argument as to why each of the nominees for team MVP can win the award as all of them are deserving candidates. They are discussed in the order I would vote:

Simply put, when the Ravens need Tucker to make a kick, he basically says “I’ve got this.” The undeniable confidence he has in just his second season as the starting kicker is admirable and quite frankly amazing. Kickers usually don’t get drafted, but Baltimore certainly out-kicked their coverage (pun intended) with the guy who beat out Billy Cundiff for the starting kicker job last summer.

It doesn’t matter where he has to kick from as Tucker is 6-for-7 from 50 and beyond, and is 35-37 overall, making 33 consecutive field goals. With an offense that struggles to find the end zone once they cross into opposing territory, especially the red zone, having a virtually guaranteed three points is something that can help head coach John Harbaugh sleep a little easier.

Daryl Smith is the team’s leading tackler and most consistent defensive player week in and week out. Getting the 10-year veteran from the Jacksonville Jaguars looks like a steal at this point as no one is comparing the physical impact he’s had on the field to that of Ray Lewis last season.

The 31-year-old leads the team in tackles with 107,  is second on the club with 18 passes defended, tied for the team lead in interceptions with three and is third on the team with four and a half sacks. You can’t ask for a much more complete player.

The only reason as to why I rank him second is because he has looked pedestrian at times (see Weeks 1 and 12 game logs) but other than that, he will likely garner a lot of votes as his role on the team is much more expansive than Tucker’s.

While Joe Flacco hasn’t had the season many hoped a $120 million man would have, he is the one that has to get Tucker into position to kick those field goals. The running game has been nonexistent. The offensive line play has been offensive to say the least. And through all that, Joe is still winning football games.

The game against the Minnesota Vikings is the best example of what he truly provides to this team: a calm, collected leader who never gives up no matter the situation. When your quarterback never mails it in no matter the score, that’s when you have a competitive organization year in and year out.

Quite possibly the unsung hero for the entire team, no one has stepped up their game more than Jimmy Smith, the former 2011 first-round pick. He has taken on the likes of Calvin Johnson, Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, and passed all of the tests with flying colors.

You know you’re doing your job as a corner when your statistics aren’t as prevalent in the passes defended or interception column because teams are simply avoiding that side of the field.

With tight end Dennis Pitta out for most of the 2013 season, the No. 1 target became Torrey Smith, and he more than stepped up to the challenge. Smith has had some bad games where he was invisible at times, but it can’t be denied that he’s had a single-season career-high in both catches (59) and yards (1,042) this season. Smith is still the most consistent deep ball threat this offense has, and he has created new opportunities for speedster Jacoby Jones on the outside.

Jeffrey Kryglik is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @Jeff_Kryglik, like him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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