Oct 26, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Kasim Edebali (91) knocks the ball out of the hands of Green Bay Packers quarterback Matt Flynn (10) in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. New Orleans defeated Green Bay 44-23. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
The New Orleans Saints were able to overcome their losing streak on Sunday, defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road, 35-32. Offensively it was an A+ performance – yards were gained, points were scored and the mistakes were limited.
On the other side of the ball, however, Rob Ryan‘s unit gave up 538 yards as Ben Roethlisberger (minus the interceptions), Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown thrived against the Black and Gold’s now 31st ranked defense.
What exactly is the problem? Injuries have been an issue, of course, but the lack of pressure on opposing quarterbacks has nothing to do with that. DE Cam Jordan finally shined, bagging up a sack and an interception in Sunday’s win.
On the other side of the line, Akiem Hicks remained a non-factor, as he has been all season. Just when we thought the Saints’ 2012 third-round pick was on the verge of having a breakout year, the former LSU recruit has done quite the opposite.
After the team totaled 49 sacks last year, New Orleans is only at 24 this season with just four games left to be played. Junior Galette aside, the entire team is struggling with getting after the quarterback, and I believe Hicks is the most noticeable with just one take-down through 12 contests.
Kasim Edebali, who has been a special teams connoisseur and one of the backup linebackers to Galette and Parys Haralson, is having a quiet, but good first year. Can he make the switch to the line and be a solution to the Hicks dilemma?
I don’t want to question the coaching, but isn’t Edebali worth a better look? He was a staple in Boston College‘s unit as a defensive end, recording 67 tackles, 9.5 sacks, five passes defended and three forced fumbles as a senior.
He certainly owns intriguing upside – he’s quick, explosive, is a strong tackler and excels at locating the ball. His position flexibility is perfect, so why not throw him in the mix more often?
The potential of the Hamburg, Germany native is endless. Plus, there’s an awesome story under the pads and behind the helmet. — at the age of 18 and speaking limited English, Edebali hopped on a plane from Germany to the United States as part of the USA Football International Student Program.
Before redshirting as a freshman at BC in 2009, he prepped at Kimball Union Academy, a school in Meridan, New Hampshire. He actually played as a tight end for the German under-19 national team before making the switch to defensive end in America.
I see him as a promising, raw talent for years to come. I like the way he plays, so come on Sean Payton and Rob Ryan, let’s get this European out there more often. It doesn’t hurt to try, and it’s pretty apparent that Hicks is not getting the job done. With four games left in the regular season and playoff hopes still alive, something must be done about the lack of pressure.