|Saints DE Will Smith and company will need to pressure Chiefs QB Matt Cassel to counter the Chiefs explosive offense. (US Presswire)|
Even though Kansas City ranks first among AFC teams in offense, the Saints are exhaling this week.
It's not a lack of respect. They're just happy they don't have to face a zone-read offense with an athletic run/pass quarterback after getting strafed by Washington's Robert Griffin III and Carolina's Cam Newton in a surprising 0-2 start.
The Chiefs have a conventional offense. Bring on convention.
“It's a little bit like a sigh of relief,” Saints LB Jonathan Casillas said. “We haven't done too well against the zone read. Our defense will be a little better this week facing an offense where they do normal stuff.”
Kansas City's Matt Cassel leads AFC QBs with 45 yards rushing on six carries, but he does not run the option. He is a pocket passer who will scramble when necessary.
The zone read is a whole new monster.The run fits are totally different than any kind of run fits that you will have for a conventional offense. Our offense is the best in the NFL. Practicing against those guys will get us prepared for any offense besides a zone-read team.”
The New Orleans front seven has 1 1/2 sacks after two games. Part of the problem was a poor pass rush, and part of it was by design because defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo did not want to open up lanes for Griffin and Newton to exploit.
The approach will change this Sunday.
“We can't have quarterbacks just sitting back there, so it's going to be all of us together putting pressure on the quarterback, whether it's the front four or on blitzes,” MLB Curtis Lofton said. “You have a more conventional offense now, so we can start playing more of our defense without worrying as much about the quarterback running. it's going to be exciting to go out there and play against a conventional offense.”
Kansas City opened with a 40-24 loss at home to Atlanta and followed with a 35-17 road loss to Buffalo, outgained both teams despite the lopsided scores. Most of the Chiefs' points and yards against the Bills came late after they fell behind 35-3. They were efficient against the Falcons early, going on TD drives of 80 and 83 yards before Cassel committed turnovers on three consecutive possessions.
Their average of 407.5 yards per game is not simply a product of hurry-up drills against disinterested defenses. WR Dwayne Bowe has 11 receptions for 155 yards and two scores. Running backs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hills have combined for 172 yards on 40 carries.
“They are a lot to be reckoned with,” Saints interim coach Aaron Kromer said. “They've done the same thing we've done. We have talent, they have talent, we need to eliminate turnovers and they need to do the same. Something is going to bust in this game.”
Yet, Kromer fell back on the same conventional wisdom as his players. He believes the Saints defense matches up better with the Chiefs than the Redskins or Panthers.
“It would be like practicing against us in training camp if you were our defense, I would think,” he said. Very similar style of running and passing.”
Follow Saints reporter Guerry Smith on twitter @CBSSaints.