Will Will Play Will?

6

 
beers1

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.

Posted by Himself in Quick Out | 6 comments

6 Comments

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  • Rob Ryan's VanMay 20, 2013 at 4:29 pm

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    I dunno, I thought the title was rather clever.

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  • FriarBobMay 20, 2013 at 11:37 pm

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    I still think this is smokescreen.

    But if by some chance it is not, it’s not impossible that Payton is right. I mean, Smith hasn’t had much of any effect rushing the passer for some time now. But he’s also been going up against left tackles. As a rush linebacker he might actually have a tiny bit of effect after all… IF John Jenkins and Akiem Hicks and crew pan out. Jenkins looks like he should need a double-team to handle. That means the center and the right guard are now occupied. Assuming the LDE is even halfway competent, he takes care of the right tackle. This leaves Hicks, who is powerful enough that he might actually be able to play NT himself. If he faces off against the average guard solo without help, he plows through and gets a sack or at least disrupts the play a bit. If the tackle helps out against him, then Smith gets a one-on-one against the TE or the FB/RB/etc, whomever is “left over” in the protection scheme. And maybe…just maybe… it might be a tiny bit more effective than the “utterly ineffective” his efforts proved over most of the last year or two.

    Maybe.

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  • PhilistineMay 21, 2013 at 12:44 am

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    We live in interesting times.

    I’m suspending disbelief until I see the results of all this player movement – results in the form of actual playing time. The Saints seem to have upgraded their talent level in what appear to be the right places. I can’t wait to see some real pseudo-football during the preseason and find out if things get better, and, if so, how.

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  • HimselfMay 21, 2013 at 7:37 am

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    “I just won’t be standing up on the right side rushing the passer,” he said. “I’ll be in the middle, I’ll be on the left side, I’ll be all over the place and there may be defenses where I have to go in and play defensive end.”

    Source: Biloxi Sun-Herald

    If Smith is going to be this super jack-of-all-trades, then he can’t drop weight. He still has to function as a 3-4 end, for which he’s actually a little undersized already. (Cam Jordan isn’t any bigger, but he’s more athletic.) I just don’t see this working.

    Still: he’ll have to earn his spot. If he’s on the final roster, it will mean 1) Best case: he’s going to be effective in the new defense, or 2) Worst case: the Saints just didn’t have anybody better.

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  • HimselfMay 21, 2013 at 10:30 am

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    Chris Roling has another post at WoDatDish that relates to this…somewhat. In the sense that it’s by Chris Roling.

    He says the Saints should “kick the tires” on Richard Seymour. I disagree. We have the makings of a pretty damn good line, and I believe the “mentoring” aspect of hiring veterans is probably overrated. (They have coaches to help them work on technique. That’s what coaches do, right?)

    What we need to do is close the doors and tell everyone “you’re our guys. The next championship team is composed of 53 men in this room. We have confidence in you, and we don’t need to bring in anyone else.”

    Also, Lance Moore’s mom has a message up at Black and Gold. Hey Debbie! Lance has always been a favorite around here. I even have his jersey (along with Darren Sharper’s). How about posting here?

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  • Breesus Christ SuperstarMay 21, 2013 at 11:49 am

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    Agree. Smith is on his way out. He was heading that way before the change to 3-4. Maybe we can use his cap room to pick up a see viable (offensive) left tackle.

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