New Orleans Saints: Can Jameis Winston adequately replace Drew Brees?

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 15: Alvin Kamara #41 and Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints celebrate following a touchdown during their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 15, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 15: Alvin Kamara #41 and Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints celebrate following a touchdown during their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 15, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images)
(Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images) /

What Will The Offense Look Like?

As mentioned, Winston and Brees are vastly different quarterbacks, which means that Sean Payton is going to have to alter his offensive system tremendously.

For starters, I think we are going to a lot more play-action pass concepts incorporated into the offense. It was clearly an emphasis when Winston came into game on Sunday, and he generally has performed much better in those situations than on traditional drop-back passes.

Although Winston’s average depth of target was extremely low on Sunday, that almost certainly won’t be the case moving forward.

Payton is too smart of a head coach not to realize that Winston is not capable of being a conservative game manager, and is much better when he can produce big plays. With all the weapons the Saints have on offense, he has plenty to work with.

If anything, New Orleans may actually have the explosive element offensively that they have been lacking.

Given Brees’ inability to push the ball down the field, they tended to be extremely predictable, even with their top receivers back healthy. Winston gives them a quarterback that can help them rely less on efficiency, and more on chunk plays.

However, Winston’s playstyle is also going to lead to a lot more negative plays. As we saw with Bridgewater, it took Payton a couple of weeks to figure out how to deal with a quarterback change, and that may remain the case this year as well.

I wouldn’t expect Payton to shift back towards a run-heavy game script, considering his history and his tendencies in recent weeks, but I do think there will be a learning curve going from a safe, no-risk offense into a far more aggressive one.

You’re simply not going to win by having Winston try to imitate Brees, and I would be shocked if Payton doesn’t realize that.

As for Taysom Hill, he’s a 30-year-old with 18 pass attempts.

New Orleans should have no thoughts about him being the team’s quarterback both now and in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if Payton implements more packages with Hill into the offense, however, even if I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

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