Let the Jameis Winston era officially start for the New Orleans Saints. Of course, we have a long way to go before Week 1 of the season, but all signs point to Winston being the frontrunner in the impending quarterback competition between him and Taysom Hill.
Whether you're anxious, nervous, or a little elated, it's going to be an exciting ride for Sean Payton's squad in 2021. Think about it. All everyone's known for the past 15 years is Drew Brees leading the charge. Sure, there were some moments here and there without them, mainly in the past couple of years, but you never had a question or real doubt in your mind that No. 9 was the guy.
On the surface, the unknown part of Winston and the Saints seems a bit unsettling. No one knows quite what to expect, and that's okay. Winston learned a lot in his short time with Brees, but he's focused on being the best he can be.
Winston said last week, "You just, you learn from his methods. And you be the best version of yourself. Like, that's what Drew Brees would tell me, you be Jameis Winston. You don't have to be Drew Brees, right? So that's, that's what it is. I feel that it's a tremendous amount of responsibility, following up behind a guy like Drew Brees, but I embrace that, I know that that is a challenging responsibility, but I really embraced that. And I would love to carry that torch from him. I would love to be able to provide the excitement and joy and resilience that he provided for this city just like that."
Although it was a limited sample size last season, some of the things that stood out on Winston was his professionalism, passion, work ethic, and body language. It was pretty telling that he was enjoying things, and really carries himself as someone who has done a lot of growing up. A leader like that is exactly what the Saints will need going into this season.
"One of the greatest things I learned from Drew (Brees) is we are making decisions based on it being the right decision. We're not concerned about the result, right? Because over time, the right decision is going to get us where we want to be and I bought into that and I had a chance to not just hear it and go and do it, like I had to hear it then go and do it and then I had to see it, right."
"We saw it over and over and over again from Drew (and down) from Taysom (Hill). They're doing it over and over again. So when that's my perspective, I'm like, OK, I want to do this over and over and over again. Like I don't want to be over here. I want to be over there with with those guys getting the opportunity to compete. So yeah, I love it."
Winston won't have the starting role handed to him, but he's definitely embracing the competition. He's excited to be back with the Saints, and it's all about challenging one another to help give New Orleans a chance to take home the ultimate goal.
"We both want the Lombardi Trophy. We both want that. Something that I experienced last year that will impact me forever, is being able to play in those meaningful games, being in the playoffs, competing with your teammates to a deeper level. And that's what I'm about, competing and winning games. And that's what we're going to do."
The last year as the Buccaneers starting quarterback is the season that goes most under the microscope for Winston. His complete stats saw him go 380-of-626 (60.7 completion percentage) for 5,109 yards with 33 touchdowns and 30 picks. He also rushed for 250 yards on 59 attempts. Winston threw 626 passes, which isn't a bad area to start for how it could work in a Payton offense.
For comparison, Drew Brees threw for over 600 passes in nine seasons with the Saints, with 627 being the lowest as a direct comparison. In those 600-plus attempt seasons, Brees had the most interceptions of his career in 2010 (22), and also had the most passing touchdowns of his career at 46 (2011) and 43 (2012).
Drew Brees: 600 or More Passing Attempt Seasons
- 2016 - 673
- 2012 - 670
- 2014 - 659
- 2010 - 658
- 2011 - 657
- 2007 - 652
- 2013 - 650
- 2008 - 635
- 2015 - 627
Does Winston have to throw it that much with someone like Alvin Kamara and a good compliment in Latavius Murray in the backfield as support? Probably not. But, he could very well have that many dropbacks. When you peel back his final year with Tampa Bay, it is quite interesting. In 2019, there were only five games that he did not go over 300 yards. Coincidentally, three of those contests were against NFC South opponents, with a lone win against Carolina and losses to New Orleans and Atlanta. 19 of his 30 interceptions came in just five games: Carolina (Week 6), Houston (Week 16), New Orleans (Week 11), Indianapolis (Week 14), and San Francisco (Week 1). Those were all home games for the Bucs.
However you want to quantify Winston's final season is up to you. Call it fascinating or interesting, or chalk it up to being an anomaly. His biggest knock is the amount of turnovers, and that's not factoring in the 12 fumbles with five of them being lost. Winston should be a better quarterback in New Orleans, and he's out to prove that. Just reducing his TD to interception ratio will work wonders for him, and it certainly seems like he's in a great system with a strong supporting cast to get there.