this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; No one is certain if Will Smith was oblivious to all the negative talk surrounding him last season or if the New Orleans Saints defensive end. However, he has silenced some of his staunchest critics with his play this season, ...
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|11-13-2009, 05:59 PM||#1|
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No one is certain if Will Smith was oblivious to all the negative talk surrounding him last season or if the New Orleans Saints defensive end.
However, he has silenced some of his staunchest critics with his play this season, while helping the Saints to their best start in franchise history.
After an injury-plagued 2008 season, Smith, a former first-round draft pick who was awarded a new contract in 2008 worth $64.5 million over seven years, has re-established himself as one of the top defensive ends in the NFL.
And along the way, he's quieted the naysayers - even if he claims he didn't know they existed.
"Like I said before, I never heard that," Smith said. "I don't listen to the news, read the paper, go on the Internet, I don't do any of that. I just come to work every day and do my job. If anybody ever did say (Smith wasn't living up to the contract) it really at the end of the day doesn't mean anything to me, because they don't really know what going on behind the scenes.
"Coach (Sean) Payton, (General Manager) Mickey Loomis, (Owner) Mr. (Tom) Benson, we were all on the same page. They knew what was going on. They knew that I was doing was the best I could do at that particular time because of the injury I had."
There's no injury now.
Smith, who had a career-low three sacks last season, has healed from the sports hernia that limited his explosion and sent a throbbing pain shooting through his midsection.
Halfway through this season, Smith has 23 tackles and his 6 ½ sacks are tied for fourth most in the NFC. Smith also has two forced fumbles and an interception.
With two sacks in each of the Saints' last two games, Smith is on pace to record more sacks than the career-high 10 1/2 he posted in 2006, when he earned his only Pro Bowl berth.
"He's healthy, he's in real good shape and he's having an excellent year," Payton said. "He's been consistent each week. He's a player that can play with speed but also has real good power, and those are two good attributes to have at the end position when you can convert your speed rushes into power and have a pretty good one-two punch there. He's playing pretty well."
Saints first-year defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said he isn't certain if Smith is playing at a different level now than he did in the past, but he knows Smith has provided the defense with a definite spark and the kind of disruptive play defensive coaches covet.
"This is my first experience with him," Williams said. "He's playing pretty well. That's the only thing I could say about it. He's playing well. He's an excellent tone setter.
"Not only as you see them as the fans see them in those three hours, you see them work in practice and you see them work in the meeting rooms and the classroom and the weight room. He's a good mentor for a bunch of those guys on that defensive line too."
Saints defensive tackle Remi Ayodele agreed, crediting Smith with the improved play of some of the Saints other defensive linemen.
"He is playing at another level," Ayodele said. "I think he has cranked it up a notch. He sees what we have and he's playing better and making us play better."
Three months ago, though, it would have been hard to predict Smith would have gotten off to this type of start.
Smith and fellow Saints defensive end Charles Grant, who has recorded four sacks and had an even bigger impact against the run, were expected to serve a four-game suspensions at the start of the season for violating the NFL anti-doping policy after testing positive for bumetanide, a banned diuretic that was an unlisted ingredient in an over-the-counter weight loss product StarCaps.
But the Saints were given a major reprieve when the NFL decided to let both players play while Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams continue to appeal their suspensions in state court after testing positive for the same drug.
"It definitely was a relief not to have to worry about later on in the season if we were going to get suspended," Smith said. "We just felt better knowing that we could just go out and play football and not worry about the media asking us questions about it all the time. We could put it behind us and focus on football."
Meanwhile, the opposition has turned much of its attention to Smith, who typically beats left tackles with a bull rush before exploding into unsuspecting quarterbacks.
In recent weeks, Smith is seeing more and more double-team blocks and he's faced an assortment of chips by running backs and tight ends, trying to keep the defensive end from making a big play.
Williams said Smith should just get used to such tactics.
"If you don't see those things it's because they don't worry about you," Williams said. "The good ones should get a lot of it. We have to have answers to help them if they get a lot of it. We play so many packages, it's hard for teams to decide when they can and can't on him, because we play so many different things. It's a compliment to him because he's getting it, yes."
Smith is also getting plenty of rave reviews from some of the same observers who doubted him last season.
But that, too, is falling on deaf ears.
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|11-13-2009, 10:28 PM||#2|
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Re: New Orleans Saints' Will Smith making noise, silencing critics
Does anyone remember earlier this year when we wondered if he or Grant would even be around this season?
|11-14-2009, 04:05 PM||#3|
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Re: New Orleans Saints' Will Smith making noise, silencing critics
OK, so Smith didn't read the media and fans blasting him last year for sub-par play? I know his freaking agent did.
The NFL is also about marketing and image. I call BS on him not knowing he was being lambasted weekly by nearly everyone for his poor play. He had to know he was getting hammered in the press. He's just playing the NFL PC card with that "I never knew" bullcrap.
I wonder if, behind the scenes, he got a bit pissed that the front office and the coaching staff didn't let all his critics know that the dude was playing with a groin injury all season long?
He was ridiculed weekly, yet no one knew he was playing hurt? I call Bull**** on that.
If he was truly hurt, then the coaches and front office threw him under the bus by not defending his pathetic play to all those that were hammering him.
I view it 2 ways...
1. He wasn't nearly hurt enough for the staff to acknowledge it to his critics as a reason for his pathetic play.
2. His injury was definitely severe enough to affect his play, and the front office and coaching staff decided to let him be ridiculed weekly instead of coming to his defense.
I smell bull**** somewhere. I don't know where it came from, but that smell is undeniable.