The question has been on the mind of New Orleans Saints fans for years now and heading into the 2021 season, it seems like we might finally have an answer.
Who is going to succeed Drew Brees at quarterback?
After his performance in Monday night’s preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, in which he went 9/10 passing with 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Jameis Winston has likely landed the inside track to start the Saints Week 1 opener against the Green Bay Packers. So, without further ado, let’s see how he did it.
The first play of the game sees Winston hitting Marquez Callaway on a quick slant route against press coverage. Callaway creates good separation off the snap and Winston throws a quick ball right on target for Callaway to get the first down. Keep note of that name, because this will not be the only time you’ll see #1 in this piece.
Like I said, you’ll be seeing #1 a decent bit in this piece. With Winston working off the play action, he’s got time to sit and wait for Callaway to break on his deep post route and find his way between two defenders before Winston plays an inch-perfect pass to Callaway for the score. Jameis couldn’t have thrown a better pass on this play if he tried. Any further upfield and Callaway likely doesn’t come down with it. Any shorter and it’s either intercepted or at best deflected. Instead Winston puts this in the perfect spot for Callaway to dive and catch it even with the contact.
What stands out the most on this play (aside from the admittedly incredible pass) is the way the Saints line holds up through the play action. We’re all aware that Winston’s decision-making has been questionable at best over the course of his career. Having an offensive line that keeps Winston clean and upright will hopefully lead to a decrease in those decisions. The offensive line is poised to be arguably the team’s biggest strength in 2021 and it will be absolutely crucial towards the Saints making another run at the playoffs.
It’s not a coincidence that these plays are all going to Marquez Callaway. Out of Winston’s 9 completions and 123 yards, Callaway caught 5 of them for 104 yards and both of his touchdowns. Here we see another play action pass with Jameis making the quick decision to hit Callaway, who’s found a hole in the Jaguars zone for a first down.
This throw is quintessential Jameis Winston. The Jaguars bring seven in an all-out blitz. Running back Latavius Murray picks up the inside rusher, leaving a man to Winston’s blindside unblocked. The Saints have Ty Montgomery on a screen to the field side. Winston needs to make a quick decision. So what does he do?
Chucks the ball up to Marquez Callaway deep.
Callaway’s in single coverage against Shaquill Griffin again and Callaway just blows right past him. Winston puts this in a spot where only his man can get it and the former Tennessee Volunteer brings it down in the end zone with one hand.
With the Saints slated to start their 2021 campaign in roughly two weeks, Sean Payton will need to make a decision soon and Winston played his way into the assumed leading role after his performance on Monday.
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