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Saints' Jameis Winston: Game-Managing Comes with Being a Professional QB

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 30, 2021

New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) works in the pocket against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

In 2019, Jameis Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season.

After a year learning under Drew Brees in New Orleans, Winston's ready to try out a new role: game manager.

"I never wanted to be deemed a game manager," Winston told NFL Network's Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter on the Huddle and Flow podcast Tuesday. "… But really, that game management is not a bad piece. That's something that I think just comes with being a professional quarterback. Being able to not just only do the things that you can do but being able to do the things that you should not do—like what not to do versus what can I do."

Winston is set to compete with Taysom Hill for the Saints' starting quarterback job in 2021 after Brees' retirement. His one-year contract will pay him a maximum of $12 million if he winds up winning the job.

The last four years of Brees' career saw him become perhaps the greatest "game manager" in NFL history. He posted an interception rate of no higher than 1.5 percent in his last four seasons, throwing just 23 interceptions on 1,793 pass attempts.

For contrast: Winston threw 30 interceptions on 626 pass attempts in 2019.

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While Brees' decline in arm strength did create some limitations to the Saints offense, his ability to protect the ball and Sean Payton's ability to scheme around those limitations kept New Orleans among the NFL's most dynamic passing attacks. Hill, while an elite athlete at the quarterback position, would be among the NFL's most limited starting quarterback in terms of arm strength—likely giving Winston a leg up in the competition. 

The Saints and Winston hope they can find a best-of-both-worlds balance, where they can use his elite arm strength when needed and still avoid turnovers at an above-average rate. 

"All I'm trying to do is focus on eliminating that," Winston said on his propensity for turnovers. "And what I came up with is—in the course of being an NFL quarterback, there are a lot of plays where when you have talent, you say I can do this, I can do that—but really learning how to manage the game."