Chiefs vs Saints: Punchless Offense, Helpless Defense, New Orleans Falls to 0-3

Knox BardeenNFC South Lead WriterSeptember 23, 2012

The New Orleans Saints are in big, big trouble.

It’s bad enough that with the Saints' overtime loss to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, they are now 0-3 on the 2012 season. What’s worse is that the "Who Dat" defense is getting worse by the minute.

The Chiefs pasted 510 yards of total offense on the Saints defense Sunday; 237 yards came on the ground from Jamaal Charles, who carried the ball a whopping 33 times for 233 yards.

Why wouldn’t Charles carry the ball 33 times? He’s the third running back this season that’s benefited from his coaching staff figuring out that New Orleans cannot stop the run.

Alfred Morris of the Washington Redskins carried the ball 28 times for 96 yards in Week 1. Washington churned out 153 on the ground against the Saints, and that was the best game defensively for New Orleans.

Cam Newton, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 191 yards, and the Carolina Panthers rushed the ball 41 times for 219 yards in Week 2.

The 233 yards from Charles and the 237 yards on the ground for the Chiefs on Sunday show that New Orleans is getting worse at stopping the run. In fact, the Saints are increasingly allowing opposing offenses to move the ball at will.

The Redskins and Panthers totaled 464 and 463 yards, respectively, of total offense. Kansas City eclipsed the 500-yard mark by 10 yards.

Last season, the Saints allowed teams to gain 400 yards or more on them eight times. They never allowed a 500-yard total offense performance in 2011. This year, every game is a carnival of missed tackles ad open running lanes.

But the blame doesn’t fall squarely on the shoulders of the defense. Quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints offense looks terrible too.

Brees—with a career 65.7 percent completion rate—is 75-of-137 this year, a remarkably low 55 percent success rate. He’s thrown seven touchdown passes and five interceptions through three games. Brees didn’t have his fifth interception last year until Week 5.

The Saints signal-caller had a decent game on paper Sunday against the Chiefs, but once the game got into the fourth quarter, Brees and the boys went quiet.

In four fourth-quarter drives, the Saints were pushed backwards, amassing negative 16 yards. No drive went more than three plays, and the team blew an 18-point lead by allowing Kansas City to score 18 points in the final 20 minutes of regulation and a game-winning three more in overtime.

Kansas City scored the final 23 points of the game Sunday, and the last New Orleans drive that went more than three plays started at the 5:18 mark of the third quarter. And that ended after five plays when Brees threw an interception.

New Orleans hasn’t been 0-3 at the start of a season since 2007, and that year ended on the rough end of a 7-9 record.

Next week, the Saints travel to the not-yet-frozen-tundra of Lambeau Field. To break into the win column, New Orleans is going to have to beat Green Bay, or fall to 0-4.