You’d think the play Jameis Winston was most proud of in the New Orleans Saints’ 38-3 drubbing of the Green Bay Packers would have been one of his five scores, but he took pride in a different accomplishment — visible signs of his growth as a player .
“Fake wide zone to the left, late in the first quarter. I think we were at the Green Bay 37. I threw the ball away,” Winston told NBC Sports’ Peter King in a postgame phone call. “We had this same play called the other day in practice. And I was trying to make a play, and I threw it, and Kaden Elliss intercepted it. So I just said to myself, If we call that play in the game this week, and it’s not there, I’m gonna throw it so high out of bounds that Shaq can’t pick it off. And that’s what I did.”
That’s the exact kind of play Winston would have turned into a negative earlier in his career. His numerous turnovers with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers speak for themselves, and his ability to avoid those giveaways on Sunday do, too. He’s learning from his mistakes and the philosophy of yielding one play to try again on the next down. That’s growth. It’s why he came to New Orleans to seek out Sean Payton’s coaching to help him become a more patient quarterback.
And it’s tough to argue with the results, not that anyone would try. Winston finished the day with a 130.8 passer rating (third best of his career), totaling 14 completions on 20 pass attempts. He didn’t take a sack while connecting on five touchdown passes, which tied a personal-best he set back in 2015. It’s as strong a start to his Saints career as you could hope for.
But it’s a long season. Payton made sure to remind Winston of that by cutting his call with King off short, shouting in good humor for him to “stop eating the cheese.”
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