Sean Payton has made his choice, and it is Jameis Winston who will be the New Orleans Saints’ starting quarterback for the 2021 NFL season. Winston defeated Taysom Hill in the race to be Drew Brees’ successor, landing the coveted post after a string of excellent preseason performances.
Winston made Payton’s decision easier with his performance Monday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars, throwing for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He completed 9 of his 10 passes in that contest, with both of his touchdowns coming from deep balls to wide receiver Marquez Callaway.
Winston defeats Hill in quarterback battle
With Winston at the helm, it appears that the Saints will employ a more aggressive downfield offense this year. Winston showed no fear in pushing the ball downfield during the preseason, completing 16 of his 22 passes for 219 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception.
Payton gave Hill every opportunity to stay in the quarterback race, but his performances in the preseason just let him down. He wasn’t as efficient as Winston was against the Jaguars and Ravens, making only 59.3 percent of his throws with just one touchdown and one interception.
Hill entered training camp with high expectations, tailoring his offseason workouts to give himself the best chance of becoming the Saints’ full-time starting quarterback. He had a taste of that role last season when Brees went down injured, going 3-1 as a starter. Unfortunately for Hill, he will return to his previous role as a read-option QB/RB/WR/TE, with Payton a huge fan of his versatility.
Winston looking to make the most of second chance
For Winston, though, this is the second opportunity he has long been waiting for. He played five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, compiling a 28-42 record as the starting quarterback from 2015 to 2019. He completed 61.3 percent of his passes during that stretch, accumulating 19,737 yards, 121 touchdowns, and 88 interceptions.
In his first season with head coach Bruce Arians in 2019, Winston showed glimpses of his tremendous talent, throwing for 5,109 yards to lead the NFL in passing. However, Arians and the rest of the Bucs’ coaching staff soured on Winston because of his erratic throwing, with the former Heisman winner becoming the first quarterback in the league’s history to record at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same year.
Turnovers have been the main problem for Winston, recording a league-high total of 111 during his stint in Tampa Bay. He has made it a point to improve his decision-making with the Saints, though, with Winston looking adept at working against the blitz and throwing into tight windows during the preseason.
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