Da Boot Sports
Article courtesy of Crescent City Sports
By Ken Trahan
The lingering question for the New Orleans Saints before their preseason game with Jacksonville was who would the starting quarterback be?
The answer came swiftly and decisively from Jameis Winston, who was scintillating from his first snap to his last.
It would not be a surprise to see Winston announced as the starter this week. He certainly earned it.
With the situation settled, it enables Sean Payton to begin his scheming to return Hill to his wild card/joker role, lining him up at tight end, as a wide receiver and even at running back. Of course, Hill can still take some snaps at quarterback, as he has done the last few years.
It was a nice performance overall by the primary players before the most fans we have seen in two years in what is now Caesars Superdome. Of course, there were many empty seats, being a preseason game and in the midst of a pandemic.
Here are my Quick Takes on the 23-21 win over Jacksonville:
**Cam Jordan led the pre-game “Who Dat” chant with the fans, whose sound was a bit muffled by the masks they were wearing.
**Ty Montgomery handled the opening kickoff return.
**Saints starters were on the field on offense, other than Tony Jones starting at running back.
**Jameis Winston quickly asserted himself on the opening drive, taking the Saints 72 yards in six plays, taking 2:43 off the clock.
**Winston connected with Marquez Callaway on a 43-yard touchdown pass over two defenders. Callaway made the catch despite being blatant pass interference. It was impressive on both ends as the Saints grabbed an early 7-0 lead with 12:17 to play in the opening quarter.
**Nolan Cooney, not Aldrick Rosas, kicked off for the Saints following the touchdown.
**C.J. Gardner Johnson had a pair of tackles on the opening defensive possession as Jacksonville went three-and-out.
**Shy Tuttle and Jalen Dalton opened at the defensive tackle spots. All other starters were on the field defensively.
**The Saints forced a three-and-out and got good field position but a pair of false start penalties, one each on Erik McCoy and Ryan Ramczyk, killed the drive and New Orleans had to punt.
**Adam Trautman left with an injury and was carted off while Brian Poole limped off in the first quarter.
**Winston then engineered another touchdown drive, going 57 yards in six plays, taking 3:06 to do so with Winston hitting Callaway with a perfect dime on a 30-yard touchdown pass against tight coverage by Shaquill Griffin. It was simply a perfect throw.
**Taysom Hill took over at quarterback with second team players on the final series of the first quarter and he was sacked by Jihad Ward on third down to force a punt.
**The next series resulted in another three-and-out with Hill again being sacked on third down after holding the ball a bit too long.
**Blake Gillikin blasted a 63-yard punt early in the second quarter, his second blast in as many games. It is easy to see why the Saints protected him last year with Thomas Morstead still on the roster.
**Jacksonville finally mounted a drive to produce points, going 12 plays, 57 yards in 5:43 with Josh Lambo connecting on a 34-yard field goal to make it 14-3 with six minutes to play in the first half.
**Hill finally got it going with a pair of 25-yard completions to Lil’Jordan Humphrey on the next possession but on a fourth-and-three from the Jacksonville 34-yard line, he held the ball too long, a consistent issue, and threw incomplete, killing the drive.
**Jalen Dalton, who is battling for a roster spot and looking good to get a spot, had a key sack of Trevor Lawrence to stall a good Jacksonville drive late in the first half. Lambo came on and missed a 43-yard field goal, hitting the right upright, with 36 seconds left in the half.
**Hill got his team points before the half, driving the Saints 33 yards in 10 plays, taking just 36 seconds with Rosas banging home a 52-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to make it 17-3 at the half. In his regular season career, Rosas is 10-of-14 from 50 yards and beyond, a real strength.
**New Orleans amassed 225 yards of offense in the first half, 195 of those passing.
**Each team had 34 offensive snaps in the half.
**Jacksonville had a long drive to start the second half but the Saints held.
**Hill remained in the game but could not get anything going on the first possession of the second half.
**Then, Hill engineered a good drive resulting in a score, going 76 yards in eight plays, taking 4:07 off the clock with Hill connecting with Humphrey on a 14-yard touchdown pass to make it 23-3 with 1:27 to play in the third quarter.
**Unfortunately, Rosas missed the extra point.
**It was Humphrey’s second touchdown reception in as many games. With his size, he has the ability to be a weapon in the red zone.
**Hill finished 11-of-20 for 138 yards and a touchdown. Interestingly, Hill has not run the ball once in two games, a strength of his game.
**Jacksonville had a nice drive which reached the New Orleans one-yard line but Wynton McManis came up with an interception. McManis later had a big hit as well.
**C.J. Beathard then guided the Jaguars to a touchdown, driving 74 yards in seven plays, taking 1:35 off the clock with Beathard hitting Jeff Cotton on a three-yard touchdown pass to make it 23-13 with 5:19 to play in the game.
**A pair of secondary players, Eric Burrell and Bryan Mills each got hurt in the final quarter.
**Beathard then hit a wide open Collin Johnson on a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 23-19 with 2:46 to play. On the play, Natrell Jamerson was looking in the backfield, stopped running, and that left Johnson wide open. Then, Beathard hit Nathan Cottrell for the two-point conversion to make it 23-21. The drive covered 50 yards in seven plays, taking 1:32 off the clock.
**Trevor Siemian played the fourth quarter for New Orleans, going 4-for-8 for 59 yards. Siemian hit Dwayne Washington on a 33-yard pass to put the game away with two minutes left.
**David Onyemata came on in the fourth quarter to take snaps defensively.
The stars were clear on this night in Winston and Callaway, who caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Winston got the ball down the field, something the Saints have lacked recently, certainly last year.
Once again, Marcus Davenport was very good, as was Gardner-Johnson. Kpassagnon made his presence felt. Ken Crawley played well, as did Dalton.
Once again, Paulson Adebo distinguished himself well. Carl Granderson picked up a personal foul in the second half but otherwise, he was a terror, playing very well.
The big negative was seeing Trautman leave on a cart with a foot injury. Initial X-rays were negative but Trautman will undergo an MRI on today, according to Adam Schefter.
The other big positive, aside from Winston, was the Saints went from six turnovers to none and from 10 penalties to six, compared to the preseason opener against Baltimore.
The final preseason game is Saturday night, at home against Arizona. It is doubtful that we will see much of starters, if at all, in the game.