"My creation… is it real?" ~Rob Ryan

And so it begins. So, what would you little maniacs like to do first?

Friday night should give us our first somewhat "real" hint as to whether or not the hard-sell they've been putting on us the last couple weeks re: this new-and-theoretically-improved defense has any basis in reality whatsoever, as our old pals Chunky Chase and Terrance Copper return to the Benz™ for some good old fashioned pushing and shoving against Our Heroes (and Patrick Robinson.) Fingers crossed.

I shit you not, Terrance Copper is still on the Chiefs' roster. Hey, good for that guy. 16.7 yards per catch back in 2006, bitches! #neverforget Say, I wonder if Mickey's got a 7th round pick burning a hole in his pocket right about now. Just sayin'. If so, surely it'll be all over Twitter pretty early in the evening, because the card will be totally visible inside Mickey's NFL-approved 12 x 12 clear plastic bag when he arrives at the Dome.

Another old pal of ours, Kamaal McIlwain, will apparently be suiting up for the Chiefs as well.

Their current linebackers coach? None other than Gary Gibbs. So that oughta be fun. I know what you're thinking, and I too am shocked that the Chiefs haven't signed Shanle yet. Must be a cap thing.

Oh, and speaking of old pals, did you know that Brad Childress is currently in charge of "special projects" for the Chiefs? We're pretty sure the "special projects" consist mainly of crying to Roger about shit. Other duties include general-purpose asshattery such as miscellaneous snitching, and maintaining his sycophantic relationship with Brett Favre… you know, just in case. Assuming they don't just send him straight to Hattiesburg Friday evening, perhaps Roman Harper will bump shoulders with him while walking past and mutter "Welp, that ought to buy me a nice dinner." You know, just to be a dick.

While we're on the subject of dicks, Junior Galette sure has been swinging his around lately. And by most accounts, not the least of which being Rob Ryan's, it's been glorious. This guy… this is my kinda guy.

We here at moosedenied have been trying to come up with the obligatory clever nickname for him, because Message Board Guy ain't getting the job done with bland shit like "Beast" and any number of intentional misspellings of "Junior" and other such nonsense. And with all due respect to the man himself, "NuLa C.E.O." doesn't exactly tickle the ole ball sack either.

Personally, I've grown quite fond of "Beard Al Gankabitch" but I'm not quite fool enough to think that'll actually stick. Unfortunately. Because it's goddamned awesome.

Anyway, speaking of things that are sticky, have you checked your pants lately?

Because, aside from the inevitable daily injury freakouts, it's been all sunshine and rainbows coming from Airline with regard to the defense. Between the daily dose of Keenan Lewis competence porn, Kenny Vaccaro's in-your-face brash-young-Texanness, Rob Ryan's devil-may-care affability and unwavering optimism, and the 5 sacks and 3 takeaways in the B&G Scrimmage, lately it seems like whatever your specific fetish might be, there's a fap for that.

But is it real? Any of it?

I suppose at this point it's still anyone's guess. But so far, all indications are that at the very least it's probably more than just some kind of Saints-themed John Hughes teen geek fantasy. (You can tell it's not that because there are black people involved.)

Or at least that's what our local Legits™ would have us believe. And I do believe them, if for no other reason than because of the pride (and occasionally, outright glee) they seem to take in telling us things we don't want to hear. The daily reports coming from Nola Media Group™ have been just short of downright glowing, and the assumption is that they wouldn't be that way if there were any reason at all for them to be not-quite-so-positive. Especially now that Duncan is off the PUP.

It also helps that we're fortunate enough to not have to deal nearly as much as other teams' fans with the annual training camp catch-22 of wondering whether the one guy made a fantastic play, or whether the guy he made the play against is just a chump. Oh, there's still a little bit of that of course with Charles Brown and Mark Ingram, to name a couple. But for the most part, the offense is about as known a quantity as it gets. We know that there are very few, if any, straight up chumps on offense. At least as far as the two-deep goes. And we damn sure know that if the offense as a whole gets "beat" by the defense overall on a given day, it ain't because the offense blows.

So aside from the ever-present Ed Daniels "August is a liar!" factor, so far I don't see a whole lot of reason to be overly-skeptical of the notion that at the very least, the defense seems to be progressing significantly (from a mindbogglingly-shitty baseline, to be fair.) And I don't know about you, but my nipples could cut glass right about now based solely on that. 

I mean, Roman Harper actually hauled in a fuckin' pick, for crying out loud! Chris Carr seems to be moving toward Elbert Mack status, at the very least. (That's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.) Kaare White has been raising an eyebrow or two every now and then. Akiem Hicks's ascent seems to have picked up right where it left off at the end of last season. Eric Martin II seems to have taken an early hold on the title of "The Next Junior Galette." And on and on like that.

And I just don't think our local Legits™ are aware of/concerned with what's good for business enough to deliberately try to "sell us" on it and blow sunshine up our asses about it. So for now anyway, until I see evidence to the contrary, I'm taking their impressions from the practices at face value. Not because it's what I want to hear, but because when there is something I don't want to hear, there will surely be three 800-word missives and sixteen videos about it at nola dot com slash Saints, and so far that hasn't happened (with the exception of injuries, of course.)

None of that guarantees that Chunky Chase isn't gonna go 10 of 11 for 198 during the second quarter Friday night, or that Jamaal Charles isn't gonna break off a 90-yard run on the first play from scrimmage, of course. But for now, I consider it a bona fide win that I'm not already resigned to the inevitability that they will. High five? Baby steps.

Meantime, for all the fawning over Kenny Vaccaro's "attitude" and "swag" and whatnot, and definitely the continuing insistence that Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma and Roman Harper are still capable of being somewhat useful (which I do consider to be a deliberate hard-sell, I've just got my fingers crossed that there will turn out to have been any legitimate basis whatsoever for it other than loyalty and blind optimism) perhaps no one player has been earning more hype so far than our friend Junior.

And as far as I'm concerned, that's a very promising development. Not just because by all accounts the guy just keeps kicking more and more ass (at a very specific thing that the Saints on the whole are desperately in need of, no less) though that certainly helps. But also because, for the most part, I'm still viewing this project as a starting-over-from-scratch rebuild. And part of that process is finding that guy who personifies the "identity" the whole unit is striving to establish. The "heart and soul." The Ray Lewis. The Lawrence Taylor. The Reggie White. The goddamn City Champ, bitches!

(Side note: Can you even wrap your mind around how incredibly amusing it would have been if Twitter had been around during Rickey Jackson's heyday, and he had taken a liking to it? Holy shit. Somebody needs to make that parody account happen ASAP.)

For my money, at least at this point, nobody on this current team even approaches Junior's suitability for that particular purpose going forward. To take on that City Champ role as the Designated Dick-Swinger. The guy who sets the tone, who carries that emotional torch, who brings the juice, who embodies the overall essence of what this defense is supposed to be. (I mean, just look at that beard! Alright, that's enough. Look away before you hurt yourself, fool.)

It requires a very specific set of traits to be That Guy. By no means is it common, and it damn sure ain't easy to pull off, which is why guys who have most or all of those traits are genuinely special. And to my eye, if there's anyone on the roster who does display most or all of those specific traits, who fits that mold to a tee, and is perfectly suited to be the heart and soul of the new-and–theoretically-improved badass version of this here defense, it's definitely our friend Beard Al Gankabitch. By a mile.

No pressure though, Junior.

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