While Winston had a tendency to be reckless with the ball during his run in Tampa Bay, the hope is that Sean Payton’s offense can even out the rough parts. The Saints need Winston to eschew his sometimes happy feet in the pocket and take the check down when warranted. Better footwork could also help him avoid some of the low throws that he displayed this preseason, particularly on long sideline tosses.
One thing should be certain: Deep shots are back in the Saints offense.
After the past few seasons of Drew Brees’ diminished arm strength restricting the offense to merely the occasional heave, Winston’s big arm should help stretch the field with regularity once again in the Bayou. The former first-round pick is at his best when driving the ball down the seam. We should see plenty of shots schemed up by Payton this season with Winston at the helm.
The decision to start Winston has the added benefit of shifting Hill back to his gadget role within the offense. While the 31-year-old showed some flashes under center, his play was up-and-down this preseason. Payton didn’t call direct run plays for Hill, a clear advantage of his, electing to see what the offense would look like with the BYU product in a standard scheme. Hill made some good throws but didn’t show rapport with receivers, struggled versus pressure and was off the mark too often for a full-time starter. While Hill is an elusive runner, he struggles in the quarterback scramble drill when the pocket breaks down.
It was clear that Payton would have had to run a completely different offense if Hill was named the starter.
With Winston at the helm, the Saints will still be able to offer a dose of Hill here and there as a QB/runner/tight end/receiver. It’s a gig that gives defensive coordinators fits preparing for every week.
Winston joined the Saints last season to learn from Brees and Payton in hopes of reigniting his career down the road.