A Tale Of Two Signings: Junior Galette & DeSean Jackson

For the second straight offseason, the Washington Redskins have grabbed a player with a shaky reputation for off-field conduct and a great reputation for on-field production, after his release. Last year, the ‘Skins welcomed DeSean Jackson in after Chip Kelly cut him in Philadelphia. This year, Junior Galette gets his second chance in Washington after being released in New Orleans.

As a Redskins fan, I’m hoping the comparison is valid in more ways than one, because DeSean was terrific in his first year in the nation’s capital. Even given all the quarterback problems that have been discussed ad nauseum with this team, Jackson caught 56 passes and was a big-play threat, averaging more than 20 yards a catch despite playing in offense heavily geared to the short game.

And those “locker room issues” that were supposedly a concern? While I’m obviously not in the locker room, DeSean by all accounts appeared to be a great teammate, offering his public support to RG3 and trying to mitigate controversy.  Now, can Galette work out as well?

I’m more concerned this time around. I never had any reservations about signing Jackson last year, because I always felt the alleged problems with him were overblown. The most serious allegation was that DeSean had friends from his youth who were involved with gangs. Well, Joe DiMaggio was notoriously connected with the men of the Italian mob and last I checked it didn’t stop him from producing and being a good citizen.

Friendships like these from the past can be notoriously complicated and I felt from the outset that DeSean was getting a bad rap—or at least a rap that was not backed up by information given to the public. The results from this past season, on and off the field, were his vindication.

The Galette case is different. There is no guilt by association involved here. Galette was charged with domestic violence last January and there was a beach incident in 2013 where a video shows a man striking a woman in a group he was with. Galette was acquitted of the domestic violence charge and he claims not to be the man in the video that struck the woman. Maybe this is true, but there is a pattern that’s, at the very least, disturbing.

Galette brings the same kind of big-play explosion to the defense that Jackson gave to the offense. The 27-year-old Galette has been a starter at outside linebacker the last two years in New Orleans and recorded 22 sacks over that time. The film graders at ProFootballFocus.com, who grade every player on every play, give Galette high marks for his pass rushing skills, indicating consistent pressure beyond the sacks.

There are some rough edges to his game and again a comparison with Jackson is valid. DeSean’s a great deep threat, but doesn’t always show the highest level of interest in blocking (I’m being nice here). Galette doesn’t grade out well on the PFF charts in stopping the run or in pass coverage. Just like Jackson is a pure deep threat on offense, Galette is a pure pass-rusher on defense.

What concerns me here is that we now have a couple different stars who do the flashy things, but not the bread-and-butter. There’s plenty of other spots on the field to put some grinders, but as fans of a team notorious for its undisciplined play, we do have to watch carefully to see if some steak is being provided with the sizzle.

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On balance, I’d have probably steered clear of Galette, but new GM Scot McCloughan is still in the honeymoon phase with me and I’m giving him benefit of the doubt. If Galette can work out, we’ll have two solid pass rushers coming from the outside linebacker spots in the 3-4 scheme, including Ryan Kerrigan. Increased pressure on the quarterback creates more interception opportunities for the secondary and DeAngelo Hall comes back healthy and ready to capitalize. Here’s hoping McCloughan is right and that Galette is ready to play football and steer clear of trouble.