No, it’s not time for the Saints to bench Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images) /

Jameis Winston deserves a hefty portion of the blame in the New Orleans Saints’ loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

But he doesn’t deserve to be benched. Not yet.

It’s easy to say, at the end of a defeat, that the game was lost at the beginning, but it’s true. The Saints gave up a score minutes into the first quarter, and everything went downhill from there.

There were only a few rare, fleeting moments when we believed New Orleans could climb out of their self-dug hole.

There were far more moments that had us palming our faces and shaking our heads at the inconsistent ring leader of the Saints circus today that was Jameis Winston.

In his defense, the Saints were going into Week 2 with some notable injuries that included Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Davenport, and Kwon Alexander. New Orleans’ coaches also suffered a Covid-19 outbreak in which eight assistants were ruled out after testing positive earlier in the week. All in all, not great for team morale.

It’s Murphy’s Law meets Jameis Winston’s historically turnover-prone record, and Winston played the game we all believed he would play at some point in the season.

New Orleans Saints QB Jameis Winston threw two INTs vs. Panthers

Winston went 11-for-22, threw for 80 yards, got picked twice and sacked four times. He had a nice rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, but that’s not the highlight people are going to remember. This is.

No one should really be surprised. So what’s with the ”bench Winston” overreactions?

The Saints knew exactly what kind of player they were getting when they chose Jameis Winston as their starting quarterback. Week 1 was an anomaly. Week 2 was closer to real life.

Is it slightly concerning that it’s only Week 2 and Winston has thrown two picks (three, if you count the called-off interception against Green Bay)? Yes.

Does it warrant a rash decision like, say, starting Taysom Hill in front of him? Absolutely not.

In some ways, the loss to the Panthers marks the beginning of the 2021 NFL season for the Saints. That game against the Packers was an ephemeral dream, and now, the cartoon bubble has popped. New Orleans have rather rudely been woken up.

Besides, Winston’s poor performance shouldn’t be the only one under the microscope.

The New Orleans offense recorded a net total of just 128 yards against Carolina, their lowest total since 2001 against the 49ers when they had 126. An Erik McCoy-less O-line got called for multiple sloppy miscues and allowed four sacks. Winston finished as the Saints’ leading rusher with 19 yards (which we assume wasn’t part of Payton’s game plan), and the Saints’ wide receivers will need to go through a washing cycle after being kept in the Panthers’ defense’s pockets all game.

And that’s just the offense.

Next. 5 quick takeaways from Week 2 loss to Panthers. dark

If the Saints want a taste of the playoffs, they have plenty of work to do, and that includes putting Winston — his strengths and his flaws — at the helm as the multifaceted player he is.

In Jaboo we must still trust.