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Our defense vs. their offense: Los Angeles Chargers

The second team defense has a few things to clean up on Sunday.

Kansas City Chiefs v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints first-team defense opened up the preseason with an impressive drive, shutting down Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City Chiefs and stuffing a fourth-and-one ‘tight end sneak’. After that, the first team defense once again neutralized the Chiefs offense, forcing them into a three-and-out. The starters looked great for the most part, but when the second and third team came in, the Saints started having trouble stopping Blaine Gabbert and the rest of the Chiefs offense.

After holding the Chiefs scoreless through their first three drives, Gabbert led the Chiefs on a 4-play, 50-yard drive to score their first touchdown of the game. First, Alontae Taylor got burned by Richie James for a 43-yard completion, and then two plays later, Taylor and Bradley Roby had a miscommunication that led to a wide open one-yard touchdown for the Chiefs.

After the half, the Saints defense allowed quarterback Shane Buechele to dice them up. The second year QB out of SMU went 11-18 for 155 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter alone. Buechele led back-to-back touchdown drive of 54 and 78-yards which included five 15+ yard plays and a defensive pass interference.

The second and third quarter were rough for the Saints defense, but when it mattered most, they turned things around. After the Chiefs took a 21-17 lead heading into the fourth, the Saints defense turned it on, allowing just three points in the fourth quarter and keeping the offense in the game. Newly signed defensive end Kyle Phillips secured the game winning interception on a screen pass with just over a minute on the clock which led to a game winning field goal as time expired. After an up-and-down game, the Saints defense is going to need to be much more consistent this Sunday.

So how will the Saints defense going to fair against the Los Angeles Chargers?

The Chargers had an excellent opening game offensively, scoring 34 points against the Rams in week one of the preseason. QB Easton Stick was their main passer, going 14-21 for 109 yards and one touchdown, but the Chargers did most of their work on the ground.

As a team, the Chargers ran for 214-yards and two touchdowns on a 6.9 YPC average. Elijah Dotson led the charge, rushing for 92-yards and a touchdown on just six carries, Joshua Kelly contributed with 54-yards on nine carries and Isaiah Spiller ran five times for 27-yards. We know the Chargers have a good offensive line, but their success on the ground could also be attributed to the Rams lack of depth on their defensive line. The Saints played the run very well against the Chiefs, who ran for 53-yards on 17 carries (3.1 YPC) if you take out their one 30-yard scramble, and they should be able to slow down the Chargers run game as well.

The Saints should expect to see a lot of Easton Stick and rookie QB Max Duggan in their week two matchup. Neither QB looked great last week. Combined they had just three completions that went for over 10-yards. If the Saints can keep the rushing game at bay, they should be able to have a much better night on the backend.

The main question heading into this week's matchup is can the Saints fix their miscues. If they can cut down on the amount of chunk plays, they allowed against the Chiefs (16 plays of 10+ yards) they should find much more success on the defensive side of the ball.

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