Saints’ Jameis Winston needs to improve his deep passing to succeed in 2022

Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston got a second chance to revive his career in 2021. He’ll get one more in 2022 and hopefully will improve at one particular statistical category.

Winston was not-so-affectionately called “Mr. 30-30” during his Tampa days, and he came to NOLA as a potential starting-caliber quarterback in desperate need of a tune-up.

Fast forward one year later and Winston has secured the starting spot for at least the next two seasons, but he still has a long journey ahead of him to develop into an elite quarterback.

In seven starts last season, Winston put together a 5-2 record with 1,170 passing yards and 14 touchdowns against three interceptions before he suffered a season-ending injury. Those numbers paint the picture of a moderately productive and accurate quarterback who nonetheless needs to hone his skills, particularly as a deep passer.

Pro Football Focus’ Bryant Horn graded every NFL team’s starting quarterback from last year on his deep passing performance and had Winston ranked at 18th overall:

"The 2015 No. 1 overall pick completed six of his 22 deep-ball attempts for 273 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions before his season-ending knee injury. He threw 44.4% of his deep passes accurately, and three of his deep passes were dropped by his intended receiver."

Saints’ Jameis Winston needs to work on his downfield throwing accuracy in 2022

PFF used eight different deep-passing metrics to come up with their rankings, including passing yards, completion percentage, yards per pass attempt, and turnover-worthy play rate, and it should come as no surprise that Winston sits roughly in the middle of the pack.

Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert, and Kirk Cousins lead all other QBs as the most impressive deep passers in 2021, while Jared Goff, Taylor Heinicke, and Sam Darnold rank last.

Under the tutelage of Sean Payton, Winston was able to rein in his interceptions and produce less turnover-prone plays, though he struggled to generate chemistry with his wideouts at the start of the season.

With a beefed-up receiver corps of Michael Thomas, Chris Olave, and Jarvis Landry, Winston has no excuse to underperform as long as he remains healthy all year round.

Only a few highlights from 2021 stand out, one of which was a deep connection between Winston and Marquez Callaway during the preseason. As the Saints enter mandatory minicamp, Winston will no doubt be looking to gel with his receiver corps and inject life into NOLA’s passing offense, which looked absolutely abysmal last season.

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Fingers crossed Winston can pick up where he left off in 2021 and not 2020.