Midway through the fourth quarter, the Ravens were down 20 points, and fans were booing. Some inside M&T Bank Stadium were chanting for Joe Flacco, the backup quarterback who stood idle on the sideline as rookie Lamar Jackson struggled to do much of anything.
Jimmy Smith had heard enough, so he got up and spoke up. Leaving the team’s bench, he walked over to fans calling for Flacco and let them know he did not appreciate the sentiment.
“I love Flacco,” Smith said after the Ravens’ 23-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in their AFC wild-card-round game. Smith and Flacco have spent their careers in Baltimore, both taken in the first round three years apart.
“But No. 8 [Jackson] got us here. So for the fact that you're a fair-weather fan that quickly, when things go rough, you turned your back on him. And that just got under my skin a little bit. So I just went to them and told them like, 'Yo, you either ride or die or you get the hell out of here, period.' That was it."
At his postgame news conference, Jackson, who entered halftime with a 0.0 quarterback rating and did not get going until the fourth quarter, did not have any hard feelings. “We still love the fans,” he said. “They were looking for better in us.” Safety Eric Weddle dismissed a similar question about the fans’ reaction.
But Smith was not alone in his disappointment. Responding to a tweet saying that there was a "lot of fake love by Ravens fans in that stadium," cornerback Marlon Humphrey tweeted after the game, "Turned into an away game quick."
Smith said he was less surprised than angered by the calls for Flacco to play. The former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player was just 4-5 as a starter this season before suffering a right hip injury and eventually losing his job to Jackson.
“I was more just a little bit pissed that we fought, this guy [Jackson] fought, 7-1 as a starter, and when it got a little rough at the end, people were booing,” he said. “Come on, why would you do that? He's the same guy that helped us get here. Now you're booing him, and I just thought that was a little foul.”
Smith did not blame the fan base as a whole, calling them “great” overall. “For the record, I want to say our fans are a lot better than that. There's a few of them in there that, you know, [are] fair weather.”