How badly the Ravens missed Jimmy Smith

Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said recently that cornerback Jimmy Smith is expected to start running in February.

That's certainly good news for the Ravens. Their secondary wasn't the same after Smith suffered a season-ending foot injury on the opening drive of a Week 8 loss in Cincinnati.

With Smith, the Ravens were 5-2 and held quarterbacks to a 86.8 passer rating (No. 11 in the NFL). Without Smith, the Ravens were 5-4 (which includes the game at Cincinnati where Smith was hurt) and quarterbacks recorded a 93.8 passer rating (24th in the league).

With Smith, the Ravens gave up seven touchdown passes (tied for fewest in the NFL) and allowed quarterbacks to connect on 63.1 percent of their throws (15th in the NFL). Without Smith, the Ravens allowed 15 touchdown passes (tied for 13th-most in the league) and watched quarterbacks complete 65.1 percent of their passes (23rd).

Smith had a breakthrough season in 2013, and he was establishing himself as one of the top rising cornerbacks in the NFL in 2014. He has the size to press receivers at the line and the speed to run with them. His streak of not allowing a touchdown is at 11 games.

When he went down with the foot injury on a goal-line stand against the Bengals, the Ravens struggled to find any stability at Smith's spot. Four cornerbacks (Dominique Franks, Anthony Levine, Asa Jackson and Rashaan Melvin) started at right cornerback in the final eight regular-season games.

Quarterbacks noticed that Smith wasn't there. Teams threw twice as much to Smith's side after he sustained a season-ending injury.

Here is a comparison of what quarterbacks did from outside the numbers on Smith's side:

With Smith, quarterbacks completed 54.9 percent of their passes (28 of 51) and recorded a 67.5 passer rating.

Without Smith, their completion rate soared to 68 percent (70 of 103) and the passer rating jumped to 101.

Do the Ravens give up six touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger with Smith? Do they fail to hold a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter against Philip Rivers with him?

And do they beat Tom Brady in the playoffs and advance to the AFC Championship Game with Smith? Melvin, his replacement, allowed the game-tying and winning touchdowns in the second half in New England.

In November, Smith was confident that he'd bounce back from the Lisfranc injury, which requires six months to recover. Under that timetable, Smith will be ready to participate in the Ravens' voluntary organized team activities which typically begin in late May.

Smith's absence only magnified how much the Ravens need a healthy Smith in 2015.