The New Orleans Saints (1-0) began their new era with Jameis Winston at quarterback with a 38-3 victory in Jacksonville, FL over the Green Bay Packers (0-1). In the opening Week blowout, Winston outdueled Aaron Rodgers and tied a career high with five touchdown passes which included four to undrafted free agents.
Below are my three takeaways from the Saints first victory of 2021.
A Near-Flawless First Half Offensively
Despite all the adversity the New Orleans Saints faced throughout the last two weeks following the effects of Hurricane Ida. The Black and Gold put together a near-flawless start to their first "home game" of 2021. Led by one of the league's best offensive lines, New Orleans dominated the time of possession. Winston and Co. held the ball for over 21 minutes and pieced together back-to-back scoring drives of over 15 plays (First Saints team to do so since 2000).
In the first half, Alvin Kamara tallied 72 all-purpose yards and was on the receiving end of Winston's first passing touchdown of his New Orleans Saints career. Wide receiver turned tight-end Juwan Johnson was responsible for the Saints' second touchdown of the first half. Johnson snagged a pass thrown to the end zone over a Green Bay defender to put the Saints up by three scores. The eight-yard touchdown was the first of Johnson's NFL career.
The Defense's Offseason Hype is Real
Throughout the offseason, Saints News' Beat Writer John Hendrix wrote how dominate the New Orleans defense was in training camp. Those observations were echoed by many in the New Orleans media and were put on full display against the NFL's reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and an explosive Green Bay Packers offense.
Rodgers threw just five interceptions in 2020. Yesterday, he threw a pair of second-half interceptions (Paulson Adebo and Marcus Williams). The Williams interceptions ended any comeback hopes for the Packers. New Orleans' defense surrendered just one third-down conversion in the contest. The conversion came against the Packers' backup quarterback Jordan Love in the fourth quarter.
The Packers' offense concluded with only 229 yards of total offense, three turnovers, and 25 minutes of possession.
Jameis Winston Listened to Drew Brees' Offseason Advice
Jameis Winston was emotional speaking about his relationship with Drew Brees in his media availability after officially re-joining the Saints this summer. When asked about his mindset becoming the heir to Drew Brees, Winston shared advice that Brees gave him during the 2020 season.
"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?"
Winston referenced this again in an interview with ESPN during the offseason saying, "Be Bruce Wayne until you have to be Batman." In his first game as the Saints starting quarterback, the former number one overall pick was the best version of himself, tossing for five scores and playing more conservatively than he did with the Buccaneers.
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