Jameis Winston Dazzles as Saints Beat Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars in Preseason ClashAugust 24, 2021
The New Orleans Saints have their first win of the post-Drew Brees era, albeit in a preseason game.
New Orleans defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-21 in Monday's game at Caesars Superdome. Jameis Winston and Marquez Callaway led the way for the victors, who will look quite different this season without No. 9 under center.
The Jaguars fell to 0-2 in the preseason and struggled when both Trevor Lawrence and Gardner Minshew II were under center.
Jameis Winston Puts on Show in Quarterback Battle
Wins don't matter much in preseason football, but individual performances during the middle of a quarterback race certainly do.
That was the backdrop for the Saints heading into Monday's game after head coach Sean Payton told reporters he still isn't sure on a timeline to determine the starter between Winston and Taysom Hill. Winston, who has far more experience as a starter, wasted little time making a statement.
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Jameis Winston's first Pass TD to Marquez Callaway traveled 53.3 yards in the air. <br><br>That's the most air distance on a Saints Pass TD since 2016 (preseason, regular season or playoffs). <a href="https://twitter.com/NextGenStats?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NextGenStats</a> <a href="https://t.co/Joh9E5pYR9">pic.twitter.com/Joh9E5pYR9</a>
The Florida State product started and immediately established a rapport with Callaway, connecting on two long touchdown passes in the first quarter.
Callaway deserves plenty of credit for coming down with multiple contested catches, but it was Winston who dazzled by dropping perfectly placed passes over defenders and taking advantage of underneath throws. He was the best quarterback on the field and looked like someone ready to start Week 1.
He also demonstrated a stronger arm and better accuracy than Hill, who took far more snaps. Hill ultimately went 11-of-20 for 138 yards and threw a touchdown to Lil'Jordan Humphrey.
Hill's versatility also means Payton can involve him in the offense as a wide receiver or wildcat option with Winston starting, much like he did when Brees ran the show in New Orleans.
The Saints may not have publicly named their starting quarterback just yet, but Winston looked like he will earn the nod based on Monday's game.
Jaguars Offense Shows Plenty of Room for Improvement
Lawrence will eventually be the starting quarterback in Jacksonville. After all, teams don't choose signal-callers with the No. 1 overall pick to have them sit on the bench for extended periods of time.
Yet he has not been named the Week 1 starter over Minshew to this point and didn't do much to separate himself Monday.
Lawrence failed to direct a single touchdown drive throughout the first half and found most of his success through underneath routes. He finished with 14-of-23 passing for 113 yards, but much of his mediocre performance didn't fall on his shoulders, though.
Rather, the offensive line appeared anything but ready for the season and allowed constant pressure when the franchise quarterback dropped back to throw. Jaguars fans couldn't have been thrilled with the sheer number of hits Lawrence took in a preseason game, which prevented him from establishing much of a rhythm.
Minshew's opportunity in the second half came with a different context because he was playing both with and against far more backups. He wasn't that much better, relying on dump passes and failing to lead any comeback efforts.
An underthrow to a streaking Jalen Camp in the third quarter and interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter were particularly egregious and didn't do much to inspire confidence.
Frankly, the Jaguars looked to be in the early stages of a rebuild heading into the season.
Both teams have one preseason game remaining. The Saints host the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday, while the Jaguars are at the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.