The Saints brought in James Laurinaitis to man the MLB position, and to “quarterback” the defense. After a 2015 season plagued by misalignments and confusion on defense, the team rightly chose to go after a cerebral and focused veteran to lead the unit.
And by all accounts, Laurinaitis did exactly that. He led the unit, he was their quarterback, he got players aligned, and was an extension of Dennis Allen’s voice.
Unfortunately, he was nothing more than that.
Reports that Laurinaitis had lost a step were widely circulated before his signing. But most dismissed those by saying that he played the entire 2015 season with one arm. And if you look back at the tape, he really did. It’s amazing, really, how he managed to stay on the field.
But that injury is likely what made him so hard to evaluate as an athlete.
If he missed a tackle, how easy it must have been to say: he would have made that if he was healthy.
Well, we got a healthy Laurinaitis in 2016, and he missed plenty of tackles. And more so than that, he was an absolute liability in coverage.
Eventually, the Saints slid Craig Robertson over to MLB when it became clear that Laurinaitis wouldn’t work out. Robertson played well, and Laurinaitis was cut.
I doubt he’ll stick on with another team after his 2016 performance. But I would LOVE to see him return to the New Orleans Saints as a linebacker coach.