METAIRIE, La. — Fourteen plays, 80 yards, two third-and-long conversions and a touchdown given up.
Preseason or otherwise, that’s not exactly the way a defense wants to start a game and Friday night, that’s exactly what the Saints allowed to Kansas City’s first-team offense.
And then the Chiefs gained only another 135 yards the rest of the game.
“It’s the first preseason game, the first time going against another offense,” inside linebacker Curtis Lofton said. “We had to get into the flow of the game and once we got into the flow of the game, they didn’t do anything.”
The Saints gave up an NFL record 7,042 yards in 2012 in Steve Spagnuolo’s first and last season with New Orleans.
Rob Ryan was brought in to clean up that mess and has installed an aggressive 3-4 defense that includes deep integration of calls and player personnel.
New Orleans was caught on the first drive trying to do too much with too little time as Kansas City set up a quicker tempo than expected.
That, players said, played as big a part in the opening drive as did anything else. A new coaching staff had to get used to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the noise and some of the logistics involved with those things.
“We just got on the sideline, made our adjustments, talked about some things and as we got back on the field, it started clicking,” safety Malcolm Jenkins said.
Sunday, after watching the playback of Friday’s game, Lofton said there were positives, including getting Kansas City off the field on 11 of 14 third-down situations.
And what was negative wasn’t anything major. The biggest problem, Lofton said, was getting aligned more quickly and getting in and out of the huddle faster.
As for that first series, there were positives there, too. Quarterback Alex Smith couldn’t ever throw down the field, instead choosing to dink and dunk the Chiefs the entire way.
But even that can be improved upon.
“That’s the point of the defense,” Lofton said. “(We need to) take away the big throws and force them to check down. We did a great job of that but when the ball gets to the check down, everybody has to break on the ball.
“We have to hold that to about three or four yards. That’s what we are willing to give up. We need to do a better job of getting off the field.”
Jenkins, too, reiterated that Friday was just the first preseason game and said it’s too early to be concerned.
“We’re a team that we don’t panic when situations like that happen,” Jenkins said.