Gameday is here and it’s another chance for the Saints to get this bitter winless season taste out of mouths, pronto. The Chiefs come to the Superdome as the lone team that’s given up as many points as the Saints through two games. They’ve played some bad football so far, which makes them the perfect candidate to face a team so desperate to get back on track. I’m sure they are thinking the same thing about the Saints. Below are five things I’ll be looking for in this game.
1. Can the Saints Generate Any Kind of Pass Rush?
The company line in week 2 was that RGIII was great preparation for Cam Newton. We all know how that turned out. Now they are feeding us the line that it’ll be nice to face a traditional offense where they don’t have to worry about the quarterback’s escapability. Sorry, I’m not drinking that Kool-Aid. The defense just isn’t playing well, period. It doesn’t matter who they face, they just need to execute. It’s not like they are facing or have faced the 2011 Saints’ offense for crying out loud. Trust me, next week is the Packers in Green Bay and it’s only going to get worse with them. So let’s stop assuming it’s going to be better because it’s not a running quarterback and let’s start playing with a mean streak. For the Saints to be more effective, they need to get to the quarterback. I don’t care if that’s by blitzing, playing Martez Wilson more, or putting Will Smith into a time machine. Whatever it takes, get to the QB.
2. Will the Real Captains Please Step up?
Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins , who have been up and down throughout their career, have both been noticeably poor to begin this season. As the team elected “captains”, it’s time for these vets to step up and make their presence felt. I’d love to see them break the streak of no Saints safety interceptions since December 2010, but I’ll settle for both or even either having a good game and making a big play in some way. Give us anything to cheer about, please.
3. Can the Saints Force the Chiefs to be One Dimensional?
The Chiefs have a good physical offensive line. They are at their best controlling the line of scrimmage by running the football. They’ve got two excellent backs in Jamaal Charles, who provides the explosive home run threat, and Peyton Hillis who is the ideal change of pace as a bruising between the tackles in short yardage situations guy. In the first two games the Chiefs hardly ran because they got down big early, and that made them one dimensional. Even when the Saints are one dimensional (see week 1) they can still hurt you because of Brees and his weapons. The Chiefs aren’t built like that. If they get down big they can’t catch up. So that’s the key. Get the Chiefs down 2 or more scores in the Dome, and it’s lights out.
4. Can Pierre Thomas Pick Up Where He Left Off?
I theorized along with Ralph Malbrough this week that PT Cruiser is in line for more touches because of A. how well he’s playing and B. how desperate the Saints are for a win. Yes Mark Ingram is still in the plans and still a good player, but I could see Pierre Thomas getting more reps than usual as the Saints ride the hot hand a little bit here. They’d be stupid not to. Did you see him go off on the Panthers?
5. Where is Breesus?
Drew Brees made a horrible mistake last week against the Panthers that still makes me sick to my stomach. Part of the problem has been underperformance by him so far, he’s just not been that good, and part of it has been drops, receivers not getting open and the offensive line doing a poor job in pass protection. I’m looking for Brees more than anyone to return to him usual form. As bad as this defense is right now, the Saints really can’t afford anything less than Brees at his best. At home in the Dome against a very weak pass rushing team in the Chiefs is just what the doctor ordered. Hopefully he will show us what we’ve been spoiled with most of the last 6 years.