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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Smith Wants a Faster Receiver

In a quick interview with the Observer, Steve Smith openly pushed for faster help at WR in statements that pined for the way the Saints do things, while subtly (and possibly accidentally) taking a shot at the coaching staff and his fellow receivers.

It's hard to say whether it was all quarterback, or somewhat an issue with the receivers as well, but the WRs didn't produce in 2009. The second and third receivers, Muhsin Muhammad and Dwayne Jarrett, scored one touchdown apiece. Muhammad had similar receiving numbers to 2008, but scored four more times. The tight ends picked up some of the slack, but it was clear that in many games Smith was shut down by defenses keying on him, and in others (like the Jets game), Smith was handled one on one.

Was it all the quarterback? Jake Delhomme did struggle. Matt Moore did find a way to get the ball into the endzone, and to Smith. The team does have the ability to change things around, however. It's unlikely they'd go with a trade, for Brandon Marshall (attitude, not enough balls to go around) or Anquan Boldin (injury history). They don't have the cap space or the picks to give up to those players.

It's not certain whether Smith was thinking of his teammates when mentally replacing them (there's no doubt whether or not Muhammad or Jarrett are faster than Smith), but it does impact them. Muhammad, a free agent, would give way to Jarrett, who has a year left on his deal, if not re-signed. Muhammad's vast experience at 36 is a polar opposite of the 23 year old Jarrett's one good game under his belt. For what it's worth, Smith lobbied for Muhammad two years ago, and has too big a heart to say he'd want Muhammad gone. But questions inside Smith of his own longevity have to instill some in Muhammad's.

Another issue is Smith's drive and dedication as well. Clearly, 2009 took a toll on him. It's also not the first time he's calmly suggested mortality or a lessening role (before, he's suggested he could move into the slot WR role). Does that mean Smith himself might be tired, at 30, of the grind? Does he feel (as he said this time last year) that he's lost a step? Is the ego simply wanting the "no, man, you're better than ever" reassurance, or has the warrior lost the fire?

Regardless of the mechanics within Smith, the players around him, or the potential signal caller getting him the ball, the offense is essentially filled and the two spots they'd need most (QB, and that supposedly faster player at WR) are almost assuredly coming through the draft if at all. And as we found with Jarrett and others, there's a timetable on getting those players up to speed.
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