Will Will Play Will?
6 Posted on May 20th, 2013 by Himself
Is Will Smith really going to play outside linebacker for the Saints? Or is the front office setting him to fail in order to make it easier to get rid of him?
Quick Out, May 20, 2013
First off: sorry for the title. You try thinking this shit up sometime. Secondly: it appears that Nakia Hogan’s report of last week that the Saints might be considering moving Will Smith to outside linebacker had some basis after all. But before all you Hogan partisans start howling for apologies, I must point out that it still might not be true, and further that it’s the task of a reporter to verify…and to maintain a skeptical attitude until that verification is made. Something along the lines of, “Both Payton and Loomis have recently stated that Will Smith will be tried out at weakside linebacker; but given that he’s a poor match for the position in physique, skills, and experience, you have to wonder just how serious they are…or if there’s another reason lurking behind the decision.”
Nakia: you can use that if you want.
The big question is, of course: Can Smith pull it off? Smaller questions are: What makes PayLoo, or Rob Ryan, believe he can? And, What if he can’t? Two weeks ago Dave Cariello at Da Chronic was asked where Smith might fit in, and his answer was grim: “Backup at either defensive end or linebacker.” [Emphasis added] With the news that Ryan is moving Akiem Hicks outside to defensive end (at least, to begin with), it would seem that the brain trust thinks they have defensive end covered, and Smith ain’t in that picture. But with Victor Butler, Martez Wilson, Junior Galette, Chase Thomas, Chris Chamberlain, and David Hawthorne all figuring to compete for snaps on the outside, it’s hard to see Smith in that picture, either.
Which all leads me to believe that there is something more behind this than a spirit of experimentation. Chris Roling at WhoDatDish describes it this way: “The move for Smith simply reeks of desperation from the coaching staff. That, or they truly don’t know what to do with him.”
Here’s what Payton himself said:
“One of the challenges in the transition right now is trying to make sure we put the right players that were on the roster a year ago in the right spots, but that’s what we’re going to be where we’ll start him at. [Sic. Jeez, Sean] I think initially that right outside position will be very similar to what he’s played for us in the past.”
Well…sorry, but I don’t think so. I can’t remember Smith doing much speed rushing from an outside position, let alone dropping back into coverage. I vote with Roling: the Saints don’t know what to do with Smith. As in: “Will, we just don’t know how you’re going to make this roster.”
But if Smith has been permanently removed from the line, and if his only chance to make the team is as a reserve linebacker (or a completely unexpected superstar—you decide the relative likelihood), then I’m forced to conclude that Will Smith isn’t being set up to be a linebacker, but an ex-Saint. His services simply are no longer required; but if he can shock the world, then sure…he can stay.
Football is a tough business. I feel for Smith, even while I think the Saints need to bench him in favor of Hicks. But I just hope Payton has had the decency, in private, to lay it out to Smith honestly, instead of feeding him the same happy bullshit the local media dung beetles wallow in unquestioningly.
Unless I’m wrong, of course. In which case I’ll owe Nakia Hogan an apology. Shit.