The New Orleans Saints have consistently found themselves in the limelight over the last few years. But things are different in 2021. Much different in fact, as the team looks to find its next starting quarterback, ideally by the end of this week.
1. Will Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill do enough to win the job?
All eyes on the quarterback battle in New Orleans. While some choose to believe there is actually no battle, all signs from the organization as well as what we’ve seen in camp, the offseason, and now the preseason say otherwise. In last week’s matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, Taysom Hill got the start. This time, it’ll be Jameis Winston’s chance to lead off and make his case. According to Peter King, Saints head coach Sean Payton would like to name the starter before the Saints’ third preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals. This makes sense considering the team is looking to treat this year’s preseason games one through three, the same way they treated the first three games of a four-game preseason. In those formats, the third was always a dress rehearsal.
But in order to have a dress rehearsal, you’ll want your lead actor cast. For Winston, good decision-making, processing, and the long ball will be his best chance. Meanwhile, Hill might look to use his legs, extend plays, and push the ball deep as well.
2. Will Zack Baun put on another impressive performance?
The second-year linebacker was all over the field last Saturday against the Baltimore Ravens. he made plays in the run game, out in the flats, and as a pass rusher. He was all over the field in his first real action as an off-ball linebacker. Can he follow that performance up with another impressive outing matching up with a talented pair of Jacksonville running backs who can do a little bit of everything?
One has to imagine that, if healthy, Kwon Alexander is the starter next to Demario Davis in 2021. But Baun has the chance to continue to stake his claim at the future of the position, and even for impactful snaps of his own in 2021.
3. Can Marcus Davenport continue his development?
The 2018 first-round selection looks to be turning a corner in New Orleans to a degree we’ve not seen from him up to this point. Last week, he led the Saints in pressures and made several great plays in the run game while continuing to be disruptive in the backfield. Can Davenport finally put it all together this season and stay healthy enough to benefit from it all?
4. How will the offensive line depth look?
Second and third team offensive lines have struggled mightily across the NFL. In fact, for many teams, the first teams have too. Luckily, the first team isn’t any cause for concern in New Orleans with five clear and obvious starters in place. However, behind them is where the Saints can further separate themselves from the rest of the pack. If the Saints can identify their best eight or nine offensive linemen, it becomes a huge benefit for the team.
Jacksonville has talented enough pass rushers to get a gauge as where this process is for the Saints who have a good step forward with James Hurst, Will Clapp, and J.R. Sweezy.
5. Can Paulson Adebo emerge?
The Jacksonville Jaguars have their own (albeit ridiculous) apparent quarterback battle ongoing between first overall pick and generational talent Trevor Lawrence and former sixth round selection Gardner Minshew. Standing in their way will be a pair of corners looking to earn their own starting spot on the Saints’ 2021 roster. Ken Crawley and rookie Paulson Adebo played a good game against Baltimore, can they put together another good one on Poydras? Particularly second round pick out of Stanford Paulson Adebo. Adebo was targeted often last week with six targets credited according to Pro Football Focus, most on the Saints defense. If he is covering that primary target again, it’s a chance to force consideration that he should be on the field sooner rather than later.
Paulson Adebo was the most targeted #Saints defender in primary coverage per PFF.— Ross Jackson (@RossJacksonNOLA) August 15, 2021
- Targeted 6 times
- Allowed 3 catches for 19 yards
- 1 yard after catch allowed
- 56.9 pass rating allowed
19 yards allowed with an average depth of target of 12.3 yards over 6 targets is… pic.twitter.com/NfhMLtGhRs
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