It seems pretty inevitable that the league is going to suspend both Charles Grant and Will Smith for the first four games of the 2009 season. It's not official yet but it will be. So we might as well start looking toward the future and get on with our collective lives. But what can we expect from the entire scenario?
I have no idea. I'm not going to even pretend that I have any clue. But it's fun to speculate and use our imaginations while thinking positive thoughts. MtnExile has already brought up the interesting point that these suspensions might very well be the kick in the pants both Grant and Smith need. That would be great, but I'm more concerned about what life will be like for those first four games without them.
I have always thought it interesting that the Saints offense has been arguably better the last two years when they were without Reggie Bush. On the surface, it just doesn't make sense. How could a team be better without one of its best players? It's possible because other factors change as a result. Play calling changes. Predictability changes. Chemistry changes. All of these things mix together and sometimes, unlike New Coke, the new formula is better than the original. So all of this begs the question: Could the defense be better without it's two best (read: highest paid) players, Charles Grant and Will Smith? Could this be one of those instances of addition by subtraction that I discussed not too long ago?
Obviously it's an unanswerable question but it's a good topic for discussion. The Saints have known all off-season that these suspensions were imminent and prepared accordingly. They've added Paul Spicer and Anthony Hargrove to play along with capable backups Bobby McCray and Jeff Charleston. As much as Grant and Smith may have fires lit underneath them when they return, any of those four guys may be equally pumped at their chance to prove themselves in the interim. Never underestimate the determination of a player with a lot to prove (see: Pierre Thomas; Lance Moore). And here is another question to think about: Would Gregg Williams keep Smith and Grant on the bench if it was best for the team? If the defensive improvement proves immediate and they're playing lights out from week one, do you mess with that after four games?
Certainly lots to think and talk about.