Inside the New Orleans Saints-Kansas City Chiefs game
KEEP AN EYE ON
The Saints' best wide receiver since 2006 has been anything but that since the start of this season. He has seven catches for 120 yards and no touchdowns through the first two weeks. Now those numbers would be OK for an average receiver. But Colston is far from average. That's why he earned a five-year contract during the offseason worth up to $40 million as the Saints made him a top priority to retain this past spring. The money hasn't slowed him down. A lingering foot injury has kept him limited in practice all week and made him questionable to play against Kansas City.
"If you watched the (Panthers) game, he wasn't Marques Colston in the game," interim coach Aaron Kromer said earlier this week. "You could say that hindered us a little bit, he didn't run as fast as he normally does. He is resting it a little bit this week."
Colston also struggled in the season opener against the Redskins where he fumbled the football out of the back of the end zone just as he was about to cross the goal line for a touchdown reception. He also had another pass fly through his fingers. He only caught four passes despite being targeted 11 times in the loss to Washington. Kromer said Friday that if Colston can run, he will play. How healthy will he actually be if he plays is another question. Who fills in for Colston if he can't play is an even bigger question, and one with possibly no answer.
The seventh-year outside linebacker has developed into one of the league's best pass rushers with 26½ sacks combined the past two seasons. He missed Kansas City's first game with a suspension and returned last week to make four total tackles but no sacks. The Chiefs have desperately missed his pass-rushing abilities as the Chiefs have yet to register a sack or a turnover on defense through the first two weeks despite several first-round picks along the defensive front like former LSU defenders Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson. Quarterback Drew Brees doesn't appear hampered at all with the ankle injury he sustained during last week's loss in Carolina. Yet the fact Brees has an ankle injury tells you that he's been under quite a bit of pressure and taking hits more often than he or anyone on the Saints would like to see. Hali can be a game-changer if he's on his game so tackles Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief better beware.
Both teams have surrendered an NFL-high 75 points in the last two games. So this has all the makings of becoming a shootout between Brees and the Chiefs' Matt Cassel. So the Saints can't settle for field goals early like they did in Carolina. Expect another up-tempo style of offense from the Saints to keep Kansas City on its heels. Also expect Brees to take his chances against a secondary that lost cornerback Brandon Carr in free agency and a Kansas City team that has only one sack and no created turnovers on the season.
You would think defensively that the Saints may try some different tactics in trying to rush the passer as Cassel isn't a threat to run with the ball. So defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo could easily call more blitzes and take more chances. If Jabari Greer is fully healthy, I would anticipate Greer defending Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe rather than having Patrick Robinson cover Bowe. Potentially having second-year cornerback Johnny Patrick back from a thigh injury would give the Saints their top three cornerbacks for the first time all season. So look for more risk-taking on defense with the approach form the last two weeks not working.
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