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Gus Kattengell’s Saints Report – Chiefs Game

Gus Kattengell with Coors Girls
Gus Kattengell

The players won’t say it but surely the fans are thinking it. Sunday’s game between the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs is a must win for the Black and Gold.

A 0-2 start wasn’t exactly envisioned by the team and while disappointing it’s not exactly panic time, “When you start off 0-2, everybody wants to ask what’s wrong, what’s going on, well it must be all these distractions, it must be all these things,” says quarterback Drew Brees. “Obviously we’d have a pretty eventful offseason. It has been difficult at times, but once we started training camp and once we got in the locker room, it was all about football and we’re still growing as a team. We’re still coming together as a team.”

Inside the Saints locker room this week there has been no finger pointing or talk of a lost season. I’ve been calling it a sense of calm-urgency. They clearly understand a 0-3 start would be disastrous but they are not adding pressure than what already exists. “There are no excuses, because in the end, we know what to do when we step on the field,” says Brees. “We just haven’t been able to execute as well as we know we can and I think the fact that guys don’t want to look for an excuse and rather look at themselves in the mirror and see about how I can get better and how can I help this team get back on track, those are the types of guys you want. Those are the types of guys we have.”

Saints players had small round mirrors placed in their lockers this week to send home the message of looking at themselves individually to see if they are giving it their full effort on game day.

“At the end of the day man we got to make plays. We got to be better defensively,” says safety Roman Harper.  “We got to be able to stop the run. We got to stop giving up deep balls and just bad balling.  We can’t do that and win in this league. Right now some of the mistakes we’re making are just uncalled for.”

I believe the Saints have approached and handled the poor start as good as you can. Obviously disappointed, the team knows there are reasons to be optimistic.

The Saints offense pretty much statistically out played Carolina. So that is an improvement from a dismal performance against Washington. As for the defense, well they at least won’t be facing a mobile option read style quarterback.

“You got a more conventional offense so we can start playing more of our defense,” said middle linebacker Curtis Lofton this week. “We don’t have to worry about a quarterback running, although Cassel is very athletic and he can run some. It’s going to be exciting to actually go out there and play against a conventional offense.”

The opportunity to play a more drop back passing offense could also provide the chance to get some sacks. “The plan the last couple of weeks was to keep the quarterback in the pocket and not let him scramble when he does drop back to pass,” says interim head coach Aaron Kromer. “We haven’t been ahead enough to make him drop back and pass a lot in the last two games, so it was a lot of play action. It was a lot of the unconventional offenses we’ve been talking about this whole time. We didn’t get the team into third-and-long very often. This week, we have to do the best job we can of stopping them, slowing them down on first and second down and getting them into third and un-manageable and that is when you get a lot of pressure on the quarterback.”

As for the Saints offense they’ll be once again facing a defensive formation that has given them fits over the past couple of season, that being the 3-4 defense.

“It’s kind of your standard three big stout guys up front, rush backers off the edge, they line up in a more traditional front,” says right tackle Zach Strief of the Chiefs 3-4 defense. “It’s a good defense, a solid defense. I think that they’ve struggled a little bit this year too. We know how good the talent is on our defense and how easy it can be sometimes to struggle a little bit and I think we’ll get their best effort this week.”

In fact the Chiefs have been a mirror image of the Saints defensively at least in terms of points allowed. 40 points in Week 1 and 35 points in Week 2, just like the Saints.

MY TAKE

No doubt both teams will do everything possible to avoid a 0-3 start. Talent is talent though and at the end of the day the Saints have a more talented team. I know, you’re probably laughing at me asking me if I even watched the first two games. I did.

You may not want to hear it and watching Tampa Bay and the Giants handle unconventional offenses a lot better than the Saints did doesn’t help. A new defense with a new middle linebacker calling out things, against two quarterbacks that put pressure at the most seasoned defenses, is no easy task though. I by no mean am excusing 922 yards of offense and 75 points.

At least we’re not the Chiefs here right, 75 points given up themselves against Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense in Week 1, and last week to Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Bills.

Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the offense looked better than last week. Still they were missing something. That something could be receiver Devery Henderson who is back this week after sitting out a game due to a concussion. Henderson stretches the defense by being the team’s deep threat. With an ailing Marques Colston (playing with a foot injury) and no one really stepping up as the team’s fourth receiver, Henderson was missed last week. His just being on the field will open up more areas for Brees to throw the football in.

With all due respect to Ryan and Fitzpatrick, I’ll take Drew Brees even with four interceptions so far this season. Even in a loss, the Saints rushed for 163 yards at Carolina and a similar performance this week will definitely help lead to a win.

Defensively, well you can’t do much worse right. So by that theory if they get two three and outs and a big defensive stop they’ll be better this week! Kansas City has 6 turnovers this season with three of those coming on third down. A loud dome (hint people), could maybe add to that total.

The Chiefs will try and establish the run with Peyton Hillis and Jammal Charles. Hill has 82 yards on 18 carries this season while Charles has 90 yards on 22 carries.

Kromer said this week the top priority for the team this week is to stop the run and run the football themselves. I think the Saints can do both. If you don’t have to worry about a quarterback running around you like Newton and Robert Griffin, then again in theory, you should be able to focus on just attacking a running back. Pride is powerful motivator and all week the Saints defense has read, heard or been told about how bad they are. I see them coming out and playing a solid game.

Offensively I feel Brees and company are a little ticked off at the points they are leaving on the field. A few of those players on offense this week said they feel responsible for the losses because they haven’t played well.

So taking into account that I think the Saints offense and defense are capable of playing better than what they have I give the edge to the Saints. Kansas City hung with the Falcons for a half and never were in the game at Buffalo. I see it Saints 34 and the Chiefs 17.

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