KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Andy Reid said before the Kansas City Chiefs' preseason opener that he simply wanted to see his team execute. Nothing fancy. Just get the job done.

He couldn't have asked the starters to execute a whole lot better.

Led by new quarterback Alex Smith, the Chiefs opened with a grinding, 14-play, 80-yard drive Friday night in New Orleans. They capped it off with a short touchdown run by Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, who followed right tackle Eric Fisher, their No. 1 overall pick.

When they kicked the ball back to the Saints, a defense that features four more returning Pro Bowl players allowed just one first down before forcing Drew Brees and Co. to punt.

"Alex, I thought, did a nice job," Reid said. "I thought that the first offense did a nice job. I thought that the first defense did a nice job for the series that they were in."

After that, well, things fell apart besides special teams. The Saints won, 17-13.

But in those brief glimpses of the new-look Chiefs, there were unmistakable signs of progress from last season.

Smith threw just one incompletion on eight pass attempts on the opening drive against New Orleans, and that was a ball thrown away to avoid a sack. It was the kind of cool efficiency that the Chiefs never had from Matt Cassel or Brady Quinn last season, when the offense's inability to put points on the board meant the Chiefs played from behind almost every time.

The first-team defense performed just as admirably when it stepped on the field.

The Chiefs stuffed Saints running back Mark Ingram on their first play of the game, and quickly forced Brees into third-and-long. He converted it with a pass to tight end Ben Watson, but Kansas City recovered to get the Saints into another third-and-long situation.

This time, Brees' pass was incomplete and New Orleans was forced to punt.

It was a good building block for the Chiefs, too, as they try to put any last vestiges of a 2-14 finish a year ago behind them. Reid got what he wanted out of the No. 1 offense and defense, and both units will likely play more than one series in preseason game No. 2.

That comes this Friday at Arrowhead Stadium against San Francisco, where Smith will get a chance to see many of his former teammates for the first time since he was traded.

He'll surely be looking for a similar type of performance.

"We had some great tempo, but hey, this is just one step," Smith said. "It's just a little bit, but a confirmation as to where we are going. We are really looking to keeping the momentum going as we move through the preseason and into the regular season."