Jameis Winston to Start Saints' Preseason Game vs. Jaguars over Taysom Hill

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 21, 2021

New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) in action against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
AP Photo/Gail Burton

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton announced Jameis Winston will start Monday night's preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars as part of the ongoing quarterback battle with Taysom Hill.

It was an expected move after Hill started the exhibition opener, a 17-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens last Saturday. Both contenders for the starting job threw 12 passes in that contest, and they'll likely split duties pretty evenly against the Jags.

Neither quarterback took a firm grasp of the top spot on the depth chart against the Ravens. Here's a look at their respective stats:

  • Hill: 8 of 12 for 81 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
  • Winston: 7 of 12 for 96 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rookie Ian Book, the team's projected No. 3 quarterback, also threw an interception, and each of the running backs who touched the ball (Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and Tony Jones Jr.) lost a fumble as part of a mistake-filled game for the Saints offense.

In turn, Payton didn't think it was the right time to discuss the QB competition. He told reporters:

"I'm not making any comparisons about the quarterbacks right now. It doesn't matter who, really, with six turnovers, right? I said to these guys, 'There's some things we're going to like on film.' I thought we played with energy. There's a handful of things. It's going to be overshadowed with the early mistakes, and despite how you play in the kicking game, defensively or some snaps offensively, it just overshadows all of it."

Winston has more experience in the starting role after five years leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense from 2015 through 2019. In his final year with the Bucs, he became the first signal-caller in NFL history to throw at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season.

Hill, who's mostly been a multifaceted offensive weapon across four years with the Saints, received a four-game quarterback audition last year while Drew Brees was injured. He performed well with eight total touchdowns (four passing and four rushing) and two interceptions in those starts.

Brees' offseason retirement then created the full-time opening.

Along with their generally similar outings in the first preseason game, neither quarterback has stood out during training camp practices, either.

Luke Johnson of the New Orleans Advocate assessed the battle Wednesday:

"But the reality is neither Hill nor Winston have separated themselves from the other. It's tough to tell whether that reflects well on Hill, who clearly came into training camp ready to compete for the starting job, or poorly on Winston, who despite being the overwhelming favorite for the job has not put Hill away.
"At this point, it still feels like Winston is in line to be the Saints' Week 1 starter at quarterback, but that feels less sure as the days pass."

In other words, it sounds like one standout performance from either quarterback could swing the race.

After Monday's clash with the Jaguars, the Saints finish the preseason Aug. 28 against the Arizona Cardinals before kicking off the regular season Sept. 12 by hosting the Green Bay Packers.