Flipping sides on the line, it’s time to look at our final position, the Right Tackle spot. Zach Strief, a Saint since 2006, rightfully earned the starting gig, and faced a good deal of criticism at the beginning of the year, and publicly took blame for the loss against the Chiefs. Strief only said he would get better, and I would say it translated on the field. He did miss four games in the 2012 season, and will turn 30 near the end of September. However, there’s still a great deal to like about Strief, and he is still going to be the starter on this team. My only concern for Strief, and yours too I’m assuming, is him staying healthy.
Bryce Harris, 24, began last season with the Falcons, and would later join the Saints in September. A Zach Strief injury paved the way for Bryce Harris on November 25th against the 49ers, but Harris got hurt in the first quarter, and would go to injured reserve from the broken leg injury. After Harris went down, it left us with William Robinson. Let’s just say he’s now a free agent.
The Saints took a bit of a gamble on our last lineman in the spotlight, Jason Smith. Smith, who just turned 27, was labeled as ‘just another failed draft pick’. In 2009, he was selected #2 overall by the St. Louis Rams. He has size at 6’5”, 308 pounds, and the Jets used him in some tackle eligible tight end situations last season, which caters to the Saints greatly. Let’s just hope he can get things back on track with the Saints with the great group surrounding him.
In summary, if you aren’t happy about this Saints offensive line, you should be without any doubts. Sure, you may say, ‘We lost Kromer’, but remember that Bret Ingalls is no stranger to the franchise. He brings 31 years of experience, and all he has done in the previous 4 seasons with the Saints is tutor the running backs. Look for similar 2012 production, and especially (as I always come back to this) when Sean Payton says he wants to run the ball more in 2013.