By his estimation, New Orleans Saints pass rusher Junior Galette’s life is almost perfect.
His son, Jovais, recently turned 1. He bought a spacious home in the area mere days ago.
At work, he’s applying pressure to quarterbacks on one out of every 7.8 of his rushes, resulting in — among other things — a team-leading four sacks.
But the Saints are 2-4, and that losing record is stopping Galette from enjoying life to the fullest.
“The only thing left ... is just winning,” Galette said Friday, two days before the Saints host the Green Bay Packers (5-2) on Sunday night. “Until we do that, I won’t be satisfied completely and internally.”
Galette put himself squarely under a metaphorical microscope when he signed a contract extension that could keep him with the Saints through 2019. The deal is worth up to $41.5 million, $23 million of which were guaranteed — and outside observers naturally went on high alert for any indication of Galette toning down the intensity once he had been paid.
Galette, though, stayed true to the form that earned him the extension. On the 188 snaps he has rushed the quarterback, according to Pro Football Focus, he has registered a team-best 24 pressures — six QB hits, 14 hurries and the four sacks.
One of the sacks didn’t prevent a score in a Week 2 defeat at Cleveland, and another didn’t stop the Saints from losing at Detroit last week. But one held the Vikings to a field goal in a hard-fought Week 3 win, and another happened in the end zone for a safety as the Saints beat Tampa Bay in overtime in Week 5.
Combined with the career-high 12 sacks he had for the Saints in 2013, they make him the team leader in that category over the past two seasons.
“Oftentimes, he sees some of the better (pass) protectors over there,” Saints coach Sean Payton said of Galette, who is the only New Orleans player with more than one sack this season. “And yet he is ready for the challenge.”
When approached at his locker Friday to discuss his performance in 2014, Galette’s eyes were downcast, and he spoke glumly.
“It’s been not good enough for us to win,” he said. “And by my standards, if we’re not winning ... I need to step it up.”
Asked how he could do that, Galette explained he’ll be much more mindful about who’s working next to him before choosing which types of rushes he’d use to assail the quarterback. He can’t, for example, use the same style of rushes when he’s charging in alongside 359-pound defensive lineman John Jenkins as he does when next to 287-pound Cameron Jordan.
“It comes down to teamwork,” Galette said. “I’m the only one eating out that pot (right now), and it doesn’t feel the same because I’m a person that’s a giver first — I’m a giving person.”
Away from the field, giving is something that the contract extension has empowered him to do like never before. He has doted on Jovais as much as possible, and it’s been as enjoyable as he imagined.
“I want to raise him in a life that I was not born into,” said Galette, who has described his upbringing as “growing up in the slums” of his hometown, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. “Every time I see him — God, the kid looks just like me, so it’s very humbling. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
But it’s not utter bliss because the Saints are neither above .500 nor at the top of the NFC South. Their winning percentage is .333, and they trail the Carolina Panthers (3-3-1) in the division.
“Just winning is missing,” Galette said.