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Barry Hirstius

Losing Snead Hurts the Saints – But It’s Not the End of the World

When news first broke initially yesterday about the 3-game suspension to begin the 2017 regular season for Saints 3rd year veteran and starting #2 wide receiver Willie Snead, the reaction among the team's fan-base was not only met with shock and disbelief, but also began to creep towards a genuine state of near-panic.

Photo courtesy of the Kenner Police Department

Snead is being suspended by the NFL following an arrest that occurred back on June 11th, in the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, Louisiana just a few miles away from his house on a DUI charge.

New Orleans Advocate beat writers Nick Underhill and Ramon Antonio Vargas reported yesterday evening that Snead had a BAC (blood alcohol content) level of .125, which is over the legal limit within the state of Louisiana of .08.

In other words, Snead was legally drunk and "feeling good", but he wasn't totally "smashed out of his mind".

However, Snead did make the unfortunate decision to still try and drive home instead of just calling a taxi cab or a friend or family member to come pick him up to bring him home --- and that's where he got himself in trouble (he was still intoxicated enough to hit a parked car).

The bottom line here is that we can "call out" Snead all we want, but the reality is that he is a 24-year old young man who did what 24-year old men do: which is go out and have a "good time".

If you are over the age of 40 now and have grown children (or even Grandchildren like myself), then certainly you remember the days of your youth when the thought or idea of driving home after a couple of drinks, didn't seem like it was all that bad.

Now of course, it's NEVER a good idea – but those are the types of decisions that 24-year olds often make, against better judgement.

The worst part of Snead's lapse in judgement is that now his actions will directly impact the fortunes of his team's ability to win football games; which is what sent the Saints "Who Dat Nation" fan-base into a state of crisis-mode after word spread of Snead's suspension.

However, here's my personal message to Saints fans everywhere:

While losing Snead certainly will hurt, its also not the "end of the world".

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Now make no mistake, what I'm not saying is that the Saints won't miss Snead, because that would be untrue and downright foolish to even suggest that the Saints will simply just find another player to perfectly replicate Snead's production (72 receptions for 895 yards and 4 TD's as the Saints' designated "slot" wide receiver), but also keep the chemistry that Snead has with QB Drew Brees, intact.

As Underhill mentioned in a Tweet last night, replacing Snead's skills are going to be hard for the Saints offense to overcome. Snead's obvious chemistry with Brees, along with his ability to read zone coverage, is going to leave a big hole within the Saints offensive attack to be sure.

Photo courtesy of the Associated Press

But this thought last night that was prevalent among Saints fans all across Social Media that the team is somehow destined or doomed to fail without Snead in the line-up, is pure non-sense.

The fact of the matter is that the Saints have known that this whole thing was about to go down the way it did yesterday, for 3 whole months now.

So to assume that the organization was suddenly caught "off guard" by this and hasn't already been preparing to compensate for Snead's absence, is purely false. 

The biggest question going forward with the team only 9 days away from the 2017 regular season opener at Minneapolis on Monday Night Football against the Minnesota Vikings is: who will replace Snead in the line-up?

Who can replace Snead's production, and adequately fill his role as a key part of the Saints offensive attack in both the receiving game and as a blocker in the running game?

Obviously, #3 WR Ted Ginn, Jr. and #4 WR Brandon Coleman will be asked to "step up".

Photo courtesy of The Associated Press

Both Ginn and Coleman each have their short-comings. and their mistrust among the Saints fan-base for their past performance issues, can't ever be overstated enough.

However, that's who the Saints have at the moment; and that's what they'll have to roll with until Snead returns in Week #4 in London, England (October 1st) when the Saints travel overseas to face the Miami Dolphins in London's Wembley Stadium.

Additionally, now the Saints will ask #5 WR Tommylee Lewis to "step up" his game as well; and it's more than likely that we could see either young undrafted free agents Jake Lampman or former LSU star Travin Dural stick around and make the Final 53-man roster also. 

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

Then of course there's a few other options, which is for the Saints to possibly claim a released player from another team off of the waiver wire (when teams can began claiming players at 12 noon Central time tomorrow), or even go so far as to seek a trade.

SOMEONE will step up and step in to Snead's role. Whether it's one person or a combination of several persons, is yet to be determined.

Let's not forget also that the Saints spent the off-season upgrading their running game (we'll quickly find out if veteran Adrian Peterson has any "gas left in the tank"), and it's more than likely that the Saints will run the ball a bit more than normal, although you shouldn't see that dramatic of a 'shift' in the Saints' offensive philosophy.

The Saints in the decade plus of the Sean Payton-Drew Brees Era, have ALWAYS found ways and found individuals to "plug and play" in the place of injured (or in this particular case, suspended) players when inopportune times arrive.

It won't be any different this time, either.

Also keep in mind: a "wild card" such as dynamic rookie RB Alvin Kamara, who the Saints will be able to utilize as a part of both the running game and the short passing game and who had a sensational Pre-Season the past few weeks.

Photo courtesy of Layne C. Murdoch, Jr.

And there's even the tight end position, which though it has become an afterthought for the most part since the departure of Jimmy Graham and the noted struggles last year of starting tight end Coby Fleener, will be certain to see an uptick in targets as well.

One more thought to add: the Saints games this season in all likelihood will be won and lost (as they mostly seem to have been for the past few seasons) by their DEFENSE -- not a slot receiver.

Truth be told, the team and the entire Saints organization will get through this.

For the Saints, perhaps the bigger question down the line will be how Snead will fit into the team's plans going forward. Snead is currently playing under a 1-year contract as an exclusive-rights free agent and is set to only make $615,000 this season.

Snead was hoping to have a big year numbers-wise this season, to earn a nice pay-day next off-season with a new long-term deal either by re-signing with the Saints, or another NFL team willing to put up big bucks for his services.

Obviously, the events on the night of June 11th and yesterday's suspension handed down by the League changes that equation. 

Whether or not the Saints and Snead are able put this behind them and resume their friendly player-organization relationship on good terms, is something that over time will eventually have to play itself out.

Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

In the meantime, there's honestly nothing else that you as a Saints fan, can do about this; outside of worrying yourself needlessly over it.

Because if you do that, you're only going to drive yourself crazy with all of the scenarios of abject failure that could possibly be suffered by the team - and by extension through you devotion to them - suffered by you personally as well.

And let's be honest: that's pretty foolish.

You will be alright, and the Saints will be alright.

And hey: it's not like you even get a choice in any of this, anyway. Whatever happens in this next month for the Saints, is totally out of your hands --- and maybe even theirs, too.

Yes, losing Willie Snead hurts. But it sure the hell isn't the "end of the world".......

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Saints News Network Editor / Featured Columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and columnist previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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