September 23, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Junior Galette (93) celebrates his sack on Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel (7) during second quarter of their game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
The world of the New Orleans Saints was a little confused this offseason when the team lined up former defensive end Will Smith at outside linebacker and had talented pass-rusher Junior Galette line up behind him as a backup.
That can’t happen in 2013.
Smith is down to 280 pounds and will act primarily as a run-stuffer at the “Jack” outside linebacker position but he leaves something to be desired when it comes to athleticism. The Saints would be wiser to keep Galette on the field, even if he tends to struggle against the run.
There’s a chance Galette sees time at both outside linebacker spots this year thanks to the injury to free-agent acquisition Victor Butler, as NOLA.com pointed out recently:
"He was working behind veteran Will Smith this spring at the “Jack” outside linebacker spot. But he wound up playing a lot on the strong side as well, now that linebacker Victor Butler has been lost to a season-ending knee injury."
Galette is certainly a versatile piece defensive coordinator Rob Ryan can move around, but he would be best served keeping Galette at the “Jack” spot. If Smith is on the field teams will pick on him in the passing game. Galette at least stands a chance in coverage and can confuse defenses because it would be difficult to tell whether he was going to drop to play the pass or come with an unorthodox pass-rush.
It’s true Galette struggles against the run, but that shouldn’t stop him from starting over Smith. For one, we don’t how know much Galette has progressed this offseason. For all we know he’s much better. Secondly, a safety in the box will help shield Galette’s issues against the run in most situations.
Smith has the experience but Galette needs to see more snaps than him if the Saints defense is going to be improved in 2013. There’s no excuse for not having such an athletic presence on the field. Ryan will protect his issues and play him to his strengths as he has done with similar players in the past.
Galette needs to start.