When Jameis Winston signed a 1 year, $1.1M contract with New Orleans, many praised the Saints for the coup, but equally, many wondered how and why Winston would decide to sit behind Drew Brees for a season.
Often we focus on how a players' career begins and over-dramatize their mistakes. But what Winston learned in New Orleans was invaluable, especially for a short NFL career that was often unfairly ridiculed and heavily scrutinized.
The quarterbacking legend, Michael Vick, pointed out to Winston, "one play won't define you, one bad play won't define you, and one good play won't define you; it's not how you start, it's how you finish my brother."
This week, Vick's QB7 interview on Fox Sports featured Saints backup quarterback Jameis Winston. Most of the conversation highlighted his past year in New Orleans with Sean Payton and Drew Brees.
CONSISTENCY AND PREPARATION
The most significant takeaway for Winston at the season's end was what he learned from Brees. His preparation, decision-making, and consistency were the major learning points while in the Saints' QB room and on the sidelines observing the future Hall of Famer.
Winston asserted these thoughts about Brees, "It was his routine off the field. He was doing the same thing every single day. Despite all the injuries, he was doing the same thing every single day. That's where consistency starts. I think as a younger me, I was so infatuated with the big play...having sparks, having flashes, but it's about play, after play, after play, after play, after play,[for Drew] it's not about special plays, it's about the right play."
At the end of the Saints' NFC Divisional Round loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Vick wanted to know what special moment did Winston and Brees share on the sidelines as time expired on the clock.
END OF GAME REFLECTIONS
Jameis' reflections were, "The biggest thing is I let him know how much I admired him. Hey man, you're still the best quarterback ever played this game. The things that you overcame this year that people don't know, and they really don't care, you know, but, but we know. We know how hard you fought."
Brees responded, "Man, you got it all. But most importantly your heart and your mentality. I really admire that. Let's embrace every opportunity. Let's go out there and still give it all we got and keep our heads up high. I respect you for that. I love you." Winston replied," I love you too."
New Orleans may not have advanced their cause this postseason, but Jameis Winston did. He noted the Saints' quarterback room as being the Harvard of Quarterbacking, and QBU. Whether it was learning the complexities of the Saints' offense, their concepts, and mentality to winning, also Winston learned about himself in the process.
Vick disclosed to Winston that "a little birdie told me [could this be Sean Payton], your football knowledge of the offense went through the roof...it was at an apex this year, congratulations Knowledge is everything."
If Winston and the Saints agree to terms and he returns to fight for the starting role with Taysom Hill is yet to be determined. The man he fondly admires has not decided to retire, officially. Nevertheless, Winston's next step is a critical one. The right team, system, and organization are vital to Winston and his development as a quarterback in the league.
Winston noted this on his next team to Vick, "In my next location, wherever I am, but ultimately, you know it, I know it, it's about winning. Right. I want to be a part of an organization that is ready to win and willing to win. And because that's what I'm, that's all I'm focused on is winning."
All of this is in New Orleans. Will he stay?
We shall see.