Thursday’s day of work had the team emphasizing third down plays. “It was a good, fast practice. Seemed good,” said interim head coach Aaron Kromer following Thursday’s practice.
The New Orleans Saints hope to settle down the uneasiness around town with a solid performance against winless Kansas City. This week the team has been quick to say that like themselves, not having a win doesn’t necessarily equal a bad team.
“I think their offense is a talented bunch and they don’t get enough credit. They’ve done a good job on third down other than three turnovers,” Kromer said. “You would say they have been productive. Their percentage of completions is high, it is just three of their six turnovers came on third down.”
Kansas City will bring the running game to the Saints via backs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis. Each Chiefs runner has a differing style of attack. “Peyton Hillis is a bruiser. He was doing it at Cleveland and now here. Jamaal Charles is an all-around back,” Kromer says. “You’d say he is fast, he’s quick, and he’s had a lot of productivity in the past. They’re two different kinds of guys. Obviously, you better be pretty stout to stop the big man and then you better be in your gap at the right time to stop Jamaal Charles.”
A rushing attack is also key to the Saints game plan as this week they once again will face a 3-4 defense, a similar but not the same type of defense Washington used. “Our last time (facing a 3-4 scheme), against the Redskins, we didn’t run the ball enough against the 3-4,” says Kromer. “We need to make sure we keep our balance and continue to get the run game going with our passing game. They just need to get locked in to having a balanced game plan and we will be good.”
Defensive end Turk McBride (ankle) was the only player not to practice on Thursday. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas (knee) returned to practice on a limited basis after missing practice yesterday. Wide receiver Marques Colston (foot) was limited for the second day in a row.
Quarterback Drew Brees (ankle), safety Roman Harper (hand), cornerback Johnny Patrick (thigh), and wide receiver Devery Henderson (concussion) were all listed as fully participating.
The Kansas City Chiefs are off to their own tough start this season at 0-2. Atlanta beat them in the season opener at Arrowhead 40-24 and last week the Bills won 35-17 in Buffalo.
KC’s biggest problem is one Saints fans can relate to. “I think our team is similar to your team defensively. Teams have been able to move the ball and score points and we haven’t been able to stop them enough,” said Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel this week to local reporters. “Offensively, we have had spurts and done well in spurts and then other times we haven’t done as well.”
“Obviously, starting 0-2 is not what any of us anticipated, but at the same time it is what it is,” says Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel. “We just have to do a better job of taking care of the football on a consistent basis, taking our shots and making sure we get good opportunities down the field.”
Saints defenders this week have been saying they are eager to play a more conventional offense in Kansas City. Washington and Charlotte as we clearly saw presented challenges to the Saints defense. Are they a bad defense however? “Watching the first two games of the season, it’s hard to get a feel for exactly how they would play a more conventional offense, which I’d say that we definitely are, especially considering that you had two very dynamic players in the backfield running the read-option and running a bunch of different stuff that for the most part is fairly new in the NFL,” says Cassel of his film study on the Saints. “When you watch them, you have to understand their personnel. They’ve got great personnel. I also think when you watch them in preseason and just watch some of (Steve) Spagnuolo’s stuff from the past, you can see how dynamic they are on defense and (with) the pressures, the secondary pressure they bring, the blitzing and everything else. You just have to be ready for such a combination of different things and different looks from their defense.”
If it makes you feel any better Saints fans, the Chiefs defense doesn’t exactly have their head coach talking confident as they prepare to face Saints quarterback Drew Brees. “Definitely it is a concern because we haven’t done a good job defensively,” says Crennel. “We have given up too many big plays and anytime you give up big plays, that’s a field position change, that’s a momentum change and so we have to try and eliminate those mistakes.”
The Saints will practice Friday as they prepare for Sunday’s game against 0-2 Kansas City in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at noon.