Based on past evidence, Jameis Winston doesn’t fit the mold as Saints starting quarterback
Six years into the NFL, Jameis Winston is still a very intriguing player.
He’s only 27. He has the prototype NFL big arm. He can make every throw, stretch any defense.
In 2019 with Tampa Bay, the former Heisman Trophy winner was the only quarterback in the NFL to pass for 5,000 yards.
Yet, after his release, he could not land a starting job.
Now, there’s plenty of chatter about Winston being the Saints starter in 2021, if the expected retirement of Drew Brees occurs.
If so, the selection of Winston as Brees’ successor would go against everything the Saints as an organization preach.
You know, protecting the football.
After the Saints committed four turnovers – a Jared Cook fumble and three Drew Brees interceptions – in a 30-20 playoff loss to the Bucs, Saints head coach Sean Payton was blunt.
“Tough to win a game like that,” said Payton. “With four turnovers.”
Over the years as Saints head coach, Payton has continually preached about taking care of the football.
In a 2017 interview, Brees said this about protecting the football:
“It is the number one key to victory every time we go into a game.”
So, with that in mind, would the Saints theoretically give the keys to the store to a quarterback who in his first five seasons threw 88 interceptions and fumbled 31 times?
As Winston was struggling with a bushel of mistakes in Tampa, the Saints were protecting the ball and winning games.
In 2017, the Saints were plus-7 in turnover margin and won 11 games. In 2018, the Saints were plus-8. In 2019, the Saints were plus-15.
And in 2020, the Saints were plus-9 in turnover margin.
Over that four season stretch, the Saints won a total of 49 regular season.
Yes, for whatever reason, in the playoffs, the Saints were unable to get over the hump and return to another Super Bowl.
But they stood for consistent excellence.
This season, the Bucs won 11 regular season games with Tom Brady at quarterback. With a steady hand behind center, Tampa Bay was plus-8 in turnover margin.
A year ago, the Bucs were minus-13.
So, that’s an improvement of more than one turnover a game over the course of a 16 game NFL season.
It’s also unfair to compare Winston with the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL.
It is also hard to ignore the numbers.
Brady is known for all of the plays he has made over the years but he should also be known for all of the plays he didn’t make for the other team over the years.
Here’s Brady’s interception totals for the past six seasons that he played in all 16 regular season games: 12, 8, 11, 8, 7, 9.
Missing from that total is the 2016 season, where Brady played in only 12 games. He threw 28 touchdown passes and only two interceptions.
That is insanely good.
While the Saints can’t hire Brady, they should look for a quarterback who takes care of the football as the successor to Drew Brees.
That an organization that preaches ball security would consider Winston as a possible starter would be mind boggling.
Winston is a very talented quarterback. He can literally do it all. But in his career, he’s done it all…for both teams.
And he’s suddenly, after one year in New Orleans, going to have a career osmosis?
That’s asking a lot, especially when you’re replacing a legend.
WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM
Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…