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John DeShazier: Saints preparing for hurry-up attack from Browns

Cleveland used it effectively against Steelers

Yes, Cleveland's offense was machine-like efficient in the second half of the season opener against Pittsburgh, when the Browns operated out of a hurry-up and scored 24 consecutive points, turning a 27-3 halftime deficit into a tie game until the Steelers kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired.

But it's not as if it was a man-bites-dog sighting for the New Orleans Saints. It wasn't that long ago that the New Orleans defense braced for just such an offensive attack.

"I know they were successful with the no-huddle, but we'll be ready to roll," Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said Friday. "Just like we were against … I believe Philadelphia runs a no-huddle offense."

Indeed, last season, the Eagles rolled into the playoffs as the NFC East Division champs, with a no-huddle offense featuring quarterback Nick Foles and running back LeSean McCoy, the former having thrown 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions during the regular season, the latter, having led the league with 2,146 yards from scrimmage.

In the wild-card game, the Saints held McCoy to 92 total yards and Foles to 195 passing yards en route to a 26-24 victory, the first road playoff win in franchise history.

Thus, facing a potent, no-huddle offense won't be a shock. The Browns rolled up 188 yards along with those 24 points in the second half.

The understandable concern is that the Saints will be doing so after having surrendered 568 yards and 37 points to the Falcons in their season-opening loss in Atlanta.

"I'm sure (Cleveland) will run that (no-huddle)," Ryan said. "They're at home, quiet crowd so they can operate even more effective. That's what made that so impressive – you're doing that in Pittsburgh, which is a loud stadium and all that. That was certainly impressive, and it got our attention. And we're just excited that this game's coming.

"We've all been there before. This isn't new territory for any of us. I've been in this league a long time – stick with what you do best, you improve it, you work on it. But at the end of the day, that wasn't a real good game by us. We're going to fix it. We'll be better. You watch."

The Saints have done their share of watching this week, too. And what they saw was a Cleveland offense that, behind quarterback Brian Hoyer, warmed to the task after posting just three points and 101 yards in the first half.

The Browns figure to test the Saints defensively when they quicken the pace.

"No. 1, you've got to be quick with your calls coming in," Coach Sean Payton said. "I think the one thing they did a very good job with, a lot of times in a no-huddle situation, you'll get some open-spread sets, the quarterback will come to the line, he might look at the defense and get to a run or a pass.

"Atlanta was a lot of 11, or three wide receiver personnel, in their approach. What Cleveland did last week was, they were in a lot of 12 – two tight ends, two receivers. So what was different and challenging about it was, the run game was very effective for them, but (so were) the nakeds and boots coming off of it.

"So it's a little bit different hurry-up offense in that the plays that you're getting are different than you might get from a three wide receiver personnel group, no huddle. At the line of scrimmage some of it is "Pistol," and (Hoyer is) getting to a run that he wants to get to, and the very next time he's getting to a play-action, naked boot. So that provides a little bit of a different challenge defensively of making sure you have good eyes on your coverage and then you're in a position to fit the run."

Payton said it will be imperative that the Saints quickly understand the pace that Cleveland sets.

"Settling in on the pace is one thing but more importantly, the scheme and understanding where they're trying to go with the running game and then, the play-action that comes off of it, is really effective," he said. "That second half, Hoyer did a real good job with the run looks and the run sells and then all of a sudden, he's on the edge and he was just as effective booting left as he was right.

"A lot of times, teams will be one way. That'll put a lot of stress on the linebackers and safeties."

After last week, it's a stress that the Saints will welcome defensively. That unit expects to upgrade its performance to the standard it expects.

"I know we're a better tackling team than that," Ryan said. "I know we're going to play great and we'll be great."

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