As we approach the start of the regular season, the New Orleans Saints wanted to quickly erase the first preseason game in the worst way. A turnover and penalty fest marred the opening game that saw the Saints commit 10 penalties and turn the ball over 6 times in a 17-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. They had a chance to redeem themselves against the Jacksonville Jaguars and did they ever. Here are a couple takeaways from the game.
Jameis Winston is your unquestioned starter
Whether or not you believed this was truly ever a quarterback battle to begin with can be left to debate. The fact of the matter is logically a guy who has 121 career touchdown passes and is one of only eight men in NFL history to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season shouldn’t be in quarterback battle with someone 4 years his senior and only 4 career touchdown passes on his resume. Yet, we were told that’s where we were heading into the preseason after training camp. After the performance Winston put on in the 1st quarter, I think it’s safe to assume Winston has rightfully won the quarterback battle.
Winston was flat out special in the first quarter going 9/10 for 123 yards, 2 touchdowns and no turnovers. He compiled a passer rating of 157.5 and looked in complete command of the offense. Even more comforting was this was done without the services of All-Pro players in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. The exciting part is not what Winston brings to the offense in comparison to Hill, but what he brings in terms of what this offense has lacked the last couple of years. The threat of the deep pass.
Jameis Winston's first Pass TD to Marquez Callaway traveled 53.3 yards in the air.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 24, 2021
That's the most air distance on a Saints Pass TD since 2016 (preseason, regular season or playoffs). @NextGenStats pic.twitter.com/Joh9E5pYR9
The two deep touchdown passes to Calloway were not only beautiful passes, but the correct read of the defense. The second pass especially where Winston read the 0 coverage over the top and shifted the protection to pick up the blitz pre-snap shows his maturity and readiness to led this offense. Simply put Winston = QB1.
Marcus Davenport looks primed and ready to dominate
Saints fans have been clamoring for the proverbial lightbulb to go off for the fourth year pro and early indications are that has happened. Davenport’s biggest knock has not been his talent. He has the desired measurables to dominate at his position. Staying healthy has always hindered him from reaching his full potential, as he has missed at least three games every season in his young career.
While most will say preseason is just preseason, for a guy like Davenport any opportunity to showcase on the field is paramount for him. Expectations are certainly high for what the Saints had to give up to acquire him. Couple that with the fact the Saints used this previous draft’s first round pick on a guy who plays the same position and you can see why most think Davenport is on the hot seat. Whatever the motivation, Davenport has come out early to prove his worth.
On defense, Marcus Davenport led the way this week, with a 92.2 Overall grade.— PFF NO Saints (@PFF_Saints) August 24, 2021
Davenport has had a fantastic preseason so far, highlighted by:
⚜️ 93.6 OVR grade
⚜️ 2 straight 90.0+ games
⚜️ 31.3% Pass rush win rate (best among all EDGEs with 25+ rushes)#Saints #WhoDat pic.twitter.com/hJfbjMbJTB
Davenport possesses a size and skill set that is most sought after for elite defensive ends. A couple of plays from the game highlight not only his raw power, but technique to be an absolute disruptor on the defensive end.
One thing #Saints DEs don't get nearly enough credit for: How well they play in run support.— Jeff Nowak (@Jeff_Nowak) August 24, 2021
This play SHOULD work. Marcus Davenport's bullrush puts him a bit out of position, but he IDs the play and closes like a missile.
Demario Davis also fills well to force the cut outside pic.twitter.com/R9IRxhd129
Simply put if the Saints get a healthy Davenport playing like this all season, this defense will be one to be reckoned with.
We can also point to the continued brilliant play of Marquez Callaway or how good Ken Crawley looked in coverage. What were some of your big takeaways from the game? Sound off in the comment section below.
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