The Junior Galette news is tough to take on numerous fronts.
Looking at it from the player's standpoint, there's not much to do other than shake your head. Since going down with a torn Achilles last preseason, all Galette has done is tell whoever would listen — fans on Twitter, reporters, essentially anyone with two ears and some free time — how anxious he was to return to the field this year. But that opportunity was robbed from him just days before he got to make that return.
From the team's perspective, it's also discouraging. So much talk about the Washington Redskins' defense revolved around how the recovering edge rusher would form a tremendous trio with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith and terrorize quarterbacks league wide. That in turn would give the corners more opportunities for interceptions, which would set up the offense in better field position, and so on and so forth. Yet that domino effect of positivity won't even see the first domino fall in 2016 because of Galette's new injury.
Overall, losing a talented factor such as Galette so close to the beginning of training camp significantly dampens the mood surrounding the franchise, and rightly so (for an additional look at this story, check out Ben Standig's post here — some of his points mesh with what's about to be said, while others don't). However, his loss should not be something that hampers the Redskins in such a way that prevents them from building upon a very successful 2015 campaign.
Every organization in the NFL is dealt at least one unfair hand in the early stages of a season; Washington just got theirs a bit early. What separates the playoff caliber ones and the also-rans, though, is the ability to recover from such drastic changes of plans, which is what the Burgundy and Gold must do starting on Thursday.
The reality of the situation is this: The defense went through this same experience 12 months ago, and were just fine. Kerrigan and Smith combined for 17.5 sacks, Chris Baker put up career numbers and the unit as a whole was exactly middle of the pack in terms of points allowed. Galette would've added something — he probably would've added a lot — but it's difficult to crave a thing you've never really had before.
Aside from the on-field focus, Washington also has to be able to handle this off the gridiron as well. Like the team's supporters, all of the defenders spent these last handful of weeks imagining how sweet it'd be to play alongside No. 58. Well, the alarm clock certainly buzzed on those daydreams. Now it's on the players to move on and not dwell on this unfortunate rotten event for too long.
As a whole, it's gut check time for Scot McCloughan's roster right now. Behind Kerrigan and Baker, the depth chart at outside linebacker is pretty muddled. Who's going to fill that void and show McCloughan and Jay Gruden that they can pitch in and make up for the former Saint's absence? (You know if no one does, the general manager won't be shy about going out and finding someone who can).
Again, the point of this post isn't to try and mitigate the impact of Galette getting hurt. The amount of times someone will say, "Man, having Junior out there sure would be nice right now," from September to January is going to be huge, and every single time that's said, people will nod their heads — as they should.
But one man doesn't make a football team. The offense is still loaded, and the defense should still be better. That influx of skill, plus the hunger following last year's playoff run, should add up to the Redskins being even more dangerous this time around. Having Galette along for the ride would absolutely help, but the ride shouldn't stop just because he's no long a part of it.
Follow Peter Hailey on Twitter at @barelyin.
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