GREEN BAY, Wis. – When the Green Bay Packers open the 2021 NFL season at the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 12, the quarterback matchup will be Aaron Rodgers vs. Jameis Winston.
Winston has won his battle against Taysom Hill to be the Saints’ starter, according to reports.
Winston sewed up the starting job with his performance vs. Jacksonville on Monday night. Playing only three possessions, Winston was 9-of-10 passing for 123 yards with a pair of touchdowns to Marquez Callaway.
“I was just thankful,” Winston said of starting his first game since 2019. “These opportunities don’t come often. A whole year without starting a football game … I’m blessed. I missed it. I missed going out there and leading the pack. That’s fun.”
Hill, who got his start as an undrafted free agent with Green Bay in 2007, was 11-of-20 passing for 138 yards. Playing from the end of the first quarter through the end of the third quarter, Hill led the Saints to 10 points in six possessions.
Winston has played in only one game against Green Bay. On Dec. 3, 2019, he was 21-of-32 passing for 270 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-20 loss to the Brett Hundley-led Packers. Coming back from injury, rookie running back Aaron Jones got only one carry in that game – a 20-yard touchdown in overtime.
The decision to go with Winston doesn’t mean Hill won’t play against Green Bay. He played frequently even with Drew Brees at quarterback the last three seasons. In 53 career games, he’s rushed for 809 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 30 passes for 336 yards and seven touchdowns. With last year’s Packers-Saints game tied at 27 in the fourth quarter, Hill stepped in for Brees and was stripped by Za’Darius Smith. The Packers turned that miscue into the winning points.
Hill started four games for an injured Brees last season, going 3-1. Three times, he topped a 70 percent completion percentage and 230 passing yards. He accounted for two touchdowns in each of those four games but also fumbled a league-worst six times during that span.
Winston isn’t immune from turnovers, either. In 2019, the last of his five seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards but also 30 interceptions.
For comparison, Rodgers has thrown 11 interceptions the past three seasons and 32 interceptions the past six seasons.
Winston joined the Saints last season and was 7-of-11 passing as the third quarterback. In the playoff loss to Tampa Bay, he played one snap and threw a 56-yard touchdown pass.
Winston, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2015 draft, is 27. Hill turned 31 this week.