There’s a new backup quarterback in the Big Easy. And Jameis Winston joining the New Orleans Saints is an ideal situation in all aspects.
Without question, the talent is there. In 2013, Jameis Winston won a Heisman Trophy and a national championship with the Florida State Seminoles. Two years later, the 6’4”, 231-pound prospect was the first overall pick in the NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spent five years with the franchise but when it came to signing him to a new contract, the organization opted for 20-year veteran Tom Brady – also a free agent.
But after being on the open market for roughly six weeks, Winston has landed in the Crescent City with a team he faced often during his days in the NFC South. So how does joining the New Orleans Saints work out well for every party involved?
3. Brees’ backup and beyond?
Let’s get one thing clear. Like every other human being who is alive, no one is getting any younger. That also applies to New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees, who is preparing for his 20th NFL season. The league’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdown throws has shown few signs of slowing down. Yes, there was a slump late in 2018 that may have or have not been due to injury. And a year ago, he suffered a broken thumb in Week 2 at Los Angeles against the Rams that caused him to missed five games.
In stepped Teddy Bridgewater and Sean Payton’s team swept every contest. But the efficient reliever is now the new starter for the Carolina Panthers. The general consensus wass that the main next man up should Brees go down again would be versatile Taysom Hill – whose amazing versatility has been on display in a recent years. But he also hasn’t thrown a lot of passes in his career and that is the essence of the position so enter Winston and his 72-game resume that includes 121 TD passes and (gulp!) 111 turnovers. So why not learn behind Brees and put yourself in a position to one day be the heir apparent?
2. Nothing like familiarity
It’s always beneficial what it team manages to sign a player that is well versed in the division. Such is the case with James Winston, who obviously spent five seasons in the NFC South with the Buccaneers. All told, the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and his club struggled for the most part under his command. And his penchant for turnovers doesn’t help matters at all.
Yes, the numbers are ugly, despite the fact that this past season the five-year pro led the league with 5,109 yards through the air and also served up an impressive 33 touchdown passes. Of course, there were also 30 interceptions (7 of those returned for touchdowns) and five lost fumbles. Winston’s 111 career turnovers in 75 contests is pretty astounding. And consider the man that is replacing him in six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. He’s played in 172 regular-season games since 2009 and he led the Patriots to the playoffs in every one of those seasons. His turnover total in those outings is…112.
Of course, barring an injury to Drew Brees, Winston will be on the sidelines. But he will also be in the quarterback meetings. And he just spent a year with Bruce Arians in Tampa and had current Falcons’ offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter as a head coach or coordinator for four seasons. And he could be a big asset to Saints’ head coach Sean Payton even if he doesn’t take the field.
1. Learning experience
The head coach for the Buccaneers was Lovie Smith and the offensive coordinator was Dirk Koetter. The former was done after that season and the latter was promoted to his job due to the work he had done with the young signal-caller. As a rookie in 2015, Jameis Winston’s completion percentage was mediocre (58.3) but he threw for 22 scores opposed to 15 interceptions and also ran for six touchdowns and lost only two of his six fumbles. And under Koetter, that completion number would continue to climb each year.
But Winston’s mistakes remained an issue. From 2016-18, he played in 40 games and made 38 starts. He threw 66 TD passes but turned over the ball 59 times via interceptions (43) and lost fumbles. This past year, the head coach was Bruce Arians and the offensive coordinator was Byron Leftwich. And the numbers have been well documented as he threw 33 touchdown passes and gave up the football an astonishing 35 times.
Taking care of the football that the Saints and head coach Sean Payton stresses. In fact, his club set a new NFL record this year by turning over the football just eight times during the regular season (although there were 2 crippling turnovers in the playoff loss to the Vikings). But Winston figures to learn a thing or two about ball security from Payton and veteran Drew Brees.