New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston has had an up-and-down NFL career. A clear indication of that is how he followed his five-touchdown performance in Week 1 with zero scores and two interceptions in a 26-7 loss to the Panthers on Sunday.
Still, that type of inconsistency will not cause New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to underestimate Winston ahead of Sunday's matchup.
"He’s a really good quarterback," Belichick told Ryan Hannable of WEEI on Wednesday.
Belichick has seen Winston up close just once in a 2017 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who drafted Winston with the No. 1 overall pick in 2015. Winston threw for 334 yards and a touchdown as the Buccaneers lost, 19-14. That was enough to make Belichick a believer in Winston's skills as a quarterback.
"He threw for 5,000 yards in Tampa, so it’s not like this guy hasn’t been productive," Belichick continued. "He’s big. He’s strong. He’s accurate. He’s got good touch on the ball."
Winston led the league with 5,109 passing yards in 2019, but he also threw a league-high 30 interceptions that year. Winston parted ways with the Buccaneers that offseason and he landed with the Saints as the backup to Drew Brees in what turned out to be his final season.
Coming into this season, Winston was in a competition for the Saints' starting quarterback job with Taysom Hill. Winston won the job after a stellar preseason. Belichick respects how Winston has adjusted to leading the offense.
"The offense that he ran in Tampa was a lot different than the offense he’s running in New Orleans," Belichick said. "But fundamentally this is a big strong guy who can throw the ball accurately. He’s very good down the field. He’s a tough guy to tackle. He’s strong in the pocket. He can make every throw on the field. He’s pretty good."
Both the Saints and Patriots have a 1-1 record heading into Sunday's game.