Is Jameis Winston the Saints QB of the future?
By: Courtney Burrows
The New Orleans Saints held mandatory training camp June 15-17 and already there is buzz amidst the rookies and the veterans. Obviously, the biggest story coming out of training camp that everyone wants to know is who will start under center come fall. Everyone knows that Taysom Hill replaced injured Brees after Week 10 and preformed well. Coach Payton likes him and his versatility on the field as a mobile QB with great arm and leg strength. Hill helped the team when most it was most needed, but does he have the perseverance and execution to lead the team all season? The main issue is that Jameis Winston has real time starting QB experience, and has guided a team and locker room. Though Winston is known for his turnovers in his last season with the Buccaneers, he also led the league in passing yards and 33 touchdowns. Winston is known for his deep passing skills and after spending a year under Brees and Coach Payton’s direction, I truly believe he is the best to lead the team going forward. Google Winston today, and you will find training video after video. He is trying to prove to himself and the Saints, but I believe he is ready and the right choice.
The biggest question is who besides Michael Thomas will catch those deep shots? With the departure of Emmanuel Sanders to Buffalo, there hasn’t been much coming out of the Big Easy pointing us to who will step up. Will it be second year, undrafted Marquez Callaway, or Tre’Quan Smith as Deonte Harris will most likely be WR#4 and continue to thrive on special teams. Smith has the foot speed and long arms to be on the receiving end of Winston’s ringers thrown towards the end zone. Remember in Week 17 when he caught a 56-yard bomb from Winston in a trick play? We Saints fans surely do, but we also remember that undrafted rookie Callaway caught 21 passes, and he too has lightning speed and quick, elusive route running that make him hard to defend. This is a tough call, both players are fast with long strides and sticky hands that contest the jump ball and win. Coach Payton is known for finding diamond in the rough undrafted rookies and making them shine, so my gut says Callaway can and will emerge as the clear complement to Thomas this year.
Let’s look deeper at Smith. At 6’2”, he has the build of a great NFL wideout, but he has yet to be full on consistent. In his best season yet, 2020 he produced 448 yards on 34 receptions so the potential is there as he can break away from defenders and manage high yards after the catch. Yet, he only seemed to flourish under pressure when Thomas was out and the Saints were desperate. Will he use pressure to motivate him to move past Callaway on the depth chart or will he let his inconsistency come to a head yet again. He has had four years to move up the ranks and prove himself, and at times he does, but at other times, he looks like a borderline WR3/4 only. I really like Smith and his abilities, but I feel like it should have happened by now, his breakout that is. He shows flashes of greatness and no one can deny his hands, but we need consistency to help the offense compete for the top of the NFC South. Callaway as well is 6’2”and was undrafted but picked up by the Saints. Last season in his rookie debut, he has 21 receptions for213 yards. Granted, he only played in a few games like Week 5 where he was targeted six times for 34 yards. The main difference between these two guys is that Callaway seems to be more versatile, even though Smith has more experience in the big game. He has played on special teams as a swift punt and kickoff returner as well as wideout, and we know how much Payton loves gadget players. The Saints need a new spark, one that will help to elevate the offense. I believe that player is Callaway. Give the young man a chance to break out his sophomore year and complement Thomas like the great wideout duos in the league.
Thomas will be given the majority of shares as he himself is determined to prove that last year was a fluke and he is a Top 10 WR in this league, but not every ball can go to him or Kamara. That is why it will be fun to see who Payton and offensive coordinator Carmichael plug in to play. I have no doubt that Winston will start come September, and that Smith might be the one running routes in the beginning, as Smith is known for be on the receiving end of long shots downfield which is what Winston, but Callaway is the future and he will get his chance to truly shine and come out on top. As a diehard Saints fan, I am definitely nervous about a new era without Brees, but excited for out future especially with rookies and sophomores who are in it to win it. I have blindly trusted Coach Payton in the past and will again. So, if Callaway is on your wavier wire in dynasty or redraft, take a flyer on him!