METAIRIE, La. — Chip Kelly isn’t buying into the storyline that the Saints are human away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Not one bit, in fact.
“I think it makes for a great narrative to write in the paper, but I know how hard they’re preparing and I know what we’re preparing for and it’s not like our mindset is, ‘Hey, they’re playing away from home so we don’t have to prepare for them,’ ” Philadelphia’s first-year coach said Wednesday morning.
While the Saints (11-5) were undefeated at home in the regular season, finishing 8-0 for the second time in three seasons, they were much more human 3-5 on the road while averaging 17 fewer points per game.
In fact, the past three road games for New Orleans saw it score a combined 36 points, or six fewer than it scored in its home finale against Tampa Bay this past Sunday.
Kelly, instead, is looking at how the Saints have played situationally all season long. He’s looking at their third-down numbers (43.9 percent on offense, 34.7 percent on defense), in the red zone (56.1 percent on offense, 56.6 percent on defense) and what they’re lined up in on certain downs.
What he has looked at thus far is Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who was second in the NFL in completion percentage (68.6), yards (5,162), completions (446) and touchdowns (39).
“He has such a great understanding of Sean’s offense, which is probably the most difficult offense to defend because they attack you both vertically and horizontally,” Kelly said. “When you’ve got a guy pulling the trigger that can direct it like he directs it, it’s pretty special to watch.”
While Brees did take more sacks this season than any other year in his career (37), the Saints still ranked seventh in the league in sacks allowed per pass attempt at just 5.68 percent.
“Drew Brees gets it out before you get to him,” Kelly said. “You still have to disrupt the timing of the plays because you can’t just play 7-on-7 out there. But it is difficult and I think that’s what makes Drew so special.”
He also sees how defensive coordinator Rob Ryan handles things. The first thing that stands out to him is how Ryan works to get his pass rushers in a good position.
Junior Galette and Cameron Jordan have combined 24.5 sacks, the former finishing with 12 and the later with 12.5.
“Two very dynamic pass rushers that you’ve got to be aware of where they are,” Kelly said. “Rob does such a good job of getting them favorable matchups. I think that’s kind of the fun part of coaching, is how he’s going to try to get those two guys matched up against us.”