You have to love this. The New Orleans Saints started the 2022 NFL draft with a bang, trading up for Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave and waiting happily for Northern Iowa left tackle Trevor Penning to fall to them at a later pick. That paid off in upgrades at two of their biggest positions of need, most importantly getting the help Jameis Winston needs to get the Saints offense back on track.
Too often last year Winston had to wait too long for receivers to work their way open downfield, dealing with pressure from the pass rush and leading to mistakes and broken plays. Now the Saints have made moves to put him in a position to succeed, which is exactly what they should have done.
Now Winston can trust Olave (and a healthy Michael Thomas) to get open quickly, and for Penning to help keep him clean. With only Andy Dalton and Ian Book behind Winston on the depth chart, it’s obvious that he’ll be the unquestioned starter in 2022 — so loading up with high-end additions is wise. He’s only playing on a two-year deal, sure, but now there is no excuse for more low-scoring games from the offense with Winston under center. If he can seize the opportunity in front of him he’ll earn a long-term contract. If Winston still struggles after the Saints brought in this help, fine; they’ll know he isn’t the answer definitely and can pivot to a different passer.
But I’m optimistic. Winston has played some good football with a weaker supporting cast than this. He’s got no excuse to keep treading water once he’s healthy. He’s got a really promising pair of receivers and the makings of a physically imposing, athletic offensive line. If the growth we saw from him last season is legit (and I like to think it was) he should prove a lot of doubters wrong next season.
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