WASHINGTON — For the second time in as many summers, the Redskins will have to manage a season without pass-rushing specialist Junior Galette.
Galette, who suffered a second Achilles tendon tear, had worked throughout the 2015 season and subsequent offseason to get back in shape for the 2016 season, only to have it end prematurely with the same injury that stole last season from him.
With 31.5 sacks in 30 career starts, the former New Orleans Saints star was expected to provide a significant boost to the Redskins defense. With him again sidelined, GM Scot McCloughan might dig through the scrap heap for any remaining free agents who could help, but Washington is more likely to rely on the young pass rushers already on the roster, namely Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Trent Murphy.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports spoke to The Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Tuesday morning to discuss the impact Galette’s injury will have, saying it will hurt, but it’s not as crippling as it may seem to some.
“How big of an impact is it for the team?” host Eric Bickel asked of the injury.
“I think there are two ways to look at it. One is you look at your depth chart on paper, and you look at who’s gonna anchor the other side, with [Ryan] Kerrigan — who’s gonna be the Batman to his Robin or Robin to his Batman, like the way they had things going with him and [Brian] Orakpo for a time. And certainly he would be the first man up and the first guy getting that crack to do that, which is obviously important. Every team needs as much pass rush as they can and as much veteran pass rush as they can muster.
The other side of it is, how can you miss what you never really had? You bought low on this guy two years in a row knowing that because of off-field issues, because of injury concerns, you may not get a whole lot of bang for your buck, but at the same time you’re not spending a whole lot of bucks to begin with.
So look, I don’t think it dooms the season, the sky certainly isn’t falling. The bottom line is that’s a guy who was a Band-Aid. You were hoping to steal 10 to 12 sacks out of him on third downs one of these years to bolster your team, but he’s not necessarily someone who you’re planning on being a bookend anchor for the next five years. And this team is gonna be young, it’s gonna be young and cheap by and large, and there’s not gonna be that many situations where they’re going to have sort of year-to-year veterans taking playing time and opportunity away from kids who they think will be part of the long-term solution.
So I don’t think Scot’s necessarily crying in his Wheaties this morning and saying ‘woe is me.’ But certainly as hard as Junior Galette worked — I know it’s different legs, but you’re talking about back-to-back Achilles injuries like that, and it’s not like teams were lining up to give him any guaranteed money last year coming off the first one. That’s a huge personal blow, obviously.”
The Redskins defense had plenty of issues last season — 28th in total yards, 25th in passing yards, 26th in rushing yards — but it did manage to pile up 38 sacks without Galette, and Smith only began coming into his own at the end of the season. After all, Smith has the same number of 3-sack games in his career as Galette has in his — one — despite starting just one game in his career.
Galette’s injury most likely opens the door for Smith to be the starter at outside linebacker opposite Ryan Kerrigan. If Smith resembles the player he was at the end of the 2015 season, the injury could be a blessing in disguise for the Redskins, but it’s nonetheless a devastating blow to Galette.