“Whatever you do, don’t stop running.”
That’s what Jameis Winston told New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith while the two worked out together this offseason.
Our own Ross Jackson previously broke down whether Tre’Quan is ready to take the next step to be the Saints’ consistent deep threat in the New Orleans offense. Make sure you check that piece out here, if you hadn’t already. But just as important as Tre’Quan’s ability to step up, so too should we be looking at Sean Payton’s ability to help allow Tre’Quan to thrive.
With a quarterback of Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill, Sean Payton will likely have a quarterback with an arm strong enough to open up some of the old playbook Saints fans have been dreaming of since the 2011 season. For instance, let’s look at this play pointed out previously by Ross from the 2020 season against the Los Angeles Chargers with an aging Drew Brees at quarterback.
Tre’Quan Smith is running down the hashes, but his route is simply a decoy to help Jared Cook get free underneath, with Brees throwing to Cook at the bottom side of the 40-yard-line.
Compare that to this play from the 2019 season against the Indianapolis Colts:
Here, Jared Cook turns around in the middle of the field at the fifteen-yard-line, but Cook doing so is the decoy this time to allow Tre’Quan to get free between the two safeties for a touchdown. The linebacker covering the middle of the field bites on Jared Cook, and Tre’Quan is there for a laser of a touchdown pass.
Sean Payton has shown an ability to get Tre’Quan opened by design, but he was limited by the arm strength of his quarterback. Now, with a younger arm at quarterback, Sean Payton and go back to more designed plays taking big shots down field because it’s a lot easier to do when you have a guy with an arm who can do this:
Jameis Winston with another 80-yard bomb to DeSean Jackson for a touchdown – rain or shine. pic.twitter.com/ujnQW6HtBh— PewterReport (@PewterReport) July 29, 2017