Breaking down the turning point in Saints’ win against Chargers

Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

The New Orleans Saints thumped the Los Angeles Chargers in a 27-10 victory on Friday night, and the black and gold set the tone from the start.

The 2022 Saints offense looked unrecognizable compared to that of last year with new weapons in Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry, though the highly anticipated return of Michael Thomas will have to wait.

Tomorrow morning’s glittering headlines will put one certain player’s name up in lights: quarterback Jameis Winston.

Winston was ruled questionable to start in the team’s final preseason matchup, but he was ultimately cleared to take the first snaps. Once the game got underway, Winston wasted no time moving down the field for a nine-play, 75-yard drive to the end zone.

All one needed to watch of Friday night’s game were the first five and a half minutes when Winston played a perfect series on the opening TD drive. That’s it. Turn off the TV and go to sleep.

For those nearly six minutes, Winston and the first-team offense balled out. They looked like the real deal, puffing out their chests and making the smug and confident statement that is as follows: Saints’ football is BACK.

Saints’ Jameis Winston and the first-team offense were cooking in preseason finale

We’d imagine every single Saints fan felt the same two emotions watching Winston sling the pigskin: pure elation and overwhelming relief.

Winston completed 4-of-4 throws on his scoring drive, two of which were nifty passes to Jarvis Landry down the middle of the field. He also found rookie Chris Olave for a 19-yard gain and tossed it to Alvin Kamara for a 5-yard gain; the Saints’ running backs took care of the rest. Mark Ingram ended up completing the drive, carrying the ball into the red zone for six points.

Ingram would score another rushing touchdown in the first quarter, yet the man of the hour was none other than Jameis Winston. He didn’t throw a touchdown but he didn’t have to, and he otherwise played a picture-perfect game earning him a quarterback rating of 118.8.

Despite the small sample size, Winston looked the part of an elite and consistent quarterback who fit into NOLA’s scheme like a hand fits into a glove — he was smart and safe with the ball, he had solid chemistry with all his receivers, and he made the Saints’ offense purr like it had never done before, not with him at the helm, anyway.

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The Saints’ offense looked as efficient as it’s been in the last two years, and even though it’s just preseason, fans couldn’t have asked for a better showing from their starting quarterback. Week 1, here we come.