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What dimension Jameis Winston could bring to the Saints passing attack

He’s definitely got flaws that need to be ironed out, but he also brings arm talent this offense hasn’t seen before.

NFL: NFC Divisional Round-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Jameis Winston is far from a perfect quarterback.

The former no. 1 overall pick has big play ability, but also has strides to take as far as decision-making and short-to-intermediate accuracy. To take a more in-depth look at some of the things I think he can improve upon, check out my past article on Winston.

But in this article, I want to focus on the dimensions he can bring to uplift the explosiveness of the New Orleans Saints offense, if he does happen to be under center next season.

While his aggressiveness in throwing the ball down the field (Highest average depth of target of any QB since 2015, at 10.8 yards) can be a blessing and a curse, he undoubtedly is capable of creating chunk gains through the air that make you say “wow.”

If you want an example of a throw not many quarterbacks can make, look no further than this one from Winston in Week 12 of 2019.

It’s 2nd-and-6 in the middle of the first quarter, and the Bucs are going to run a three-verts concept vs. Atlanta’s Cover 2 Zone defense.

Winston takes the snap from under center, and his first objective is to identify whether the middle of the field is open or closed — in other words, if there is a deep middle-of-the-field safety or not.

There isn’t, as the two safeties split and go to their deep halves of the field.

This means two things for Jameis: One — he’s got Chris Godwin on a middle seam route with an open middle-of-the-field. Two — he’s got Godwin matched up with a linebacker (Deion Jones) whose job is to carry any routes going through the MoF.

So, once he recognizes this, he also sees that the two deep Go routes to both boundaries are holding the two deep safeties enough to where there is space to fit this ball in.

But the most impressive part of this play to me is the anticipation in which he showcases to make this play. Look at where Jones is in coverage on Godwin when he releases this ball.

Jones is in front of Godwin, but Jameis has the wherewithal to know that Jones’s back is going to be turned, and he’s in the process of turning his hips to match Godwin’s route. So, Godwin has enough leverage to get over the top of him.

And Jameis fits an absolutely gorgeous ball in a tight window.

Godwin makes the safety miss, and takes it to the house.

These are the types of throws Brees just wasn’t hitting these last two seasons: tight window and 20+ yards downfield.

Jameis’s 112 Big Time Throws are the 12th-most among 50 QBs with at least 500 pass attempts since 2015, via PFF. The only problem is that his 123 turnover-worthy passes are the highest of any QB in that span, by 18 (LOL).

But if Jameis is under center, the defense has no choice but to respect that deep ball and force him to consistently be accurate in the short-to-intermediate range. And that is the part of his game that will make or break him.

It would be interesting to see how much of that downfield aggression is tampered down in the Saints offense, as he led the league since 2015 in % of throws that were past the sticks (53.8%). Drew Brees is sort of average, but more towards the lower end, on that spectrum.

But the main difference would be yards after catch. Only 34.4% of Winston’s passing yards were after the catch since 2015, which is by far the lowest of any qualifying QBs.

Part of that is him never checking down and the offense he was in, but he also didn’t have many options who were that great after the catch. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are obviously really good, but they are more possession types of receivers.

With guys like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, you’d assume he’d try to get them the ball underneath more often. And in the small sample we saw from him in Week 10 vs. the San Francisco 49ers, he did that.

His ADOT in Week 10 was a mere 6.0 yards (28th out of 32). But the Saints also had the lead against a mediocre ball club when he came in for the injured Brees, so I wouldn’t really take much from that sample.

Nevertheless, his arm talent could open windows to Sean Payton’s offense that we haven’t seen in a while. He has all the physical tools, but we’d have to just see with the more cerebral quarterbacking traits.

Whether or not you think it’d be a good idea for the Saints to commit to him next year, you have to admit it sure would be entertaining.


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