Winston is going up against Taysom Hill for the starting quarterback job for Week 1. The winner gets to replace the future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, who retired at the end of the 2020 season. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Winston played great.
He was 9-for-10 with 123 passing yards and two touchdown passes – both to wide receiver Marquez Callaway.
“I have not started a football game in so long, so I was so excited to get an opportunity to start and lead the pack. It was exciting, and the rhythm was great. [The] offensive line was phenomenal, and we had guys like Marquez making plays all night. You [have to] love that,” he said.
Winston hadn’t started a game since he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019. He told reporters he felt “blessed” to get back into some kind of starting role even if it was just the preseason.
“I think I’m really good on decisions, I just have to get better on accuracy,” he said when asked about his strengths. “I had some balls that I really would like to have back that would have been big completions for us. In particular, that one ball that I threw to the right that was long. I just have to continue to work and get better. Like I said, I’m focusing on execution. As long as I’m executing the right way, my eyes are in the right place, and I’m making the right decisions, I can live with it.”
Hill finished the game 11-for-20 with 138 yards and a touchdown. The advantage he has over Winston is that he ran the offense for a few games last season.
Saints coach Sean Payton said before Monday’s game he would make a decision on the starting quarterback by the weekend, but he backtracked after the 23-21 win.
“When we know what direction we are going, we will let you guys know. We’re not going try to anticipate saying, ‘Hey, it’s going to be midweek or next week.’ That’s, I think, the best way for us to handle it. It’s kind of how we’ve always handled something like this, but I was pleased with not just the quarterbacks. I was pleased with how we played as a team for the most part,” Payton said.