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What losing quarterback Jameis Winston means for New Orleans Saints – New Orleans Saints Blog



METAIRIE, La. – Jameis Winston’s torn ACL in his left knee will sideline him the remainder of the season. It’s bad news for a quarterback, who was working to revive his career, and the New Orleans Saints.

Winston earned the QB1 job this summer because he gave the Saints the best chance to win. And their passing game was already a big concern because of their lack of proven depth at wide receiver and tight end.

However, the Saints (5-2) aren’t sunk — as they showed in their improbable 36-27 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

Even though they lost Drew Brees to retirement and Winston to injury in 2021, they still have decent quarterback depth with Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian and rookie fourth-round draft pick Ian Book — good enough that coach Sean Payton insisted Monday he doesn’t plan to look outside of the building for help.

More importantly, the quarterback position has essentially become a supporting role for the Saints, who rely heavily on their defense, offensive line and run game.

Here are some quick thoughts on the burning questions that now surround the Saints:

The case for Taysom Hill

This one’s pretty obvious, considering Hill was 3-1 as a replacement for Brees last season and finished runner-up to Winston in an open competition for the job over the summer.

Unfortunately, Hill has been sidelined since Week 5 with a concussion. But assuming he returns to practice in the next week or two, he’s the most likely long-term option for New Orleans.

Of course Hill is far from perfect, which is why he lost out to Winston heading into the season. He is a 31-year-old multi-position athlete with four career quarterback starts under his belt — and those four starts came with mixed results last season. He completed an impressive 71.9% of his passes during that stretch. But he struggled once he got past his first and second reads, throwing two interceptions and losing three fumbles.

Hill had a good rapport with Saints receiver Michael Thomas, who will hopefully come back soon from the ankle injury that has sidelined him all season. But he never mastered the check-down pass to running back Alvin Kamara (which is essential for any Saints QB).

Still, that experience should help both Hill and Payton if they try the experiment again. If they can master a formula where Hill relies more on his stellar running ability to get him out of trouble once those first and second reads aren’t there, he should have even more success.

The case for Trevor Siemian

This one’s pretty obvious, too, after the 29-year-old journeyman stepped in for Winston on Sunday with the game tied at 7 and helped lead New Orleans to a win over the reigning Super Bowl champion Bucs.

Overall, Siemian is 13-12 in his career as a starter, but it’s been a while since he went 13-11 with the Denver Broncos from 2015-2017 and 0-1 with the New York Jets in 2018.

“He played with poise and made good decisions. It’s what you want someone to do that’s coming into the game, really, without a lot of work, and I thought he handled the situation well,” said Payton, who compared Siemian’s calm, even demeanor to another veteran he used to coach, Ty Detmer.

If Hill isn’t healthy enough to start this week, Siemian could get another chance to make an even stronger impression.

And as a bonus, if Siemian is quarterback, the Saints could continue to use Hill in his versatile role as an RB/WR/TE in an offense starved for playmakers.

However, Payton made it clear this summer he wouldn’t use that as a deciding factor between Hill and Winston. If he thinks Hill would be the more effective quarterback, he’ll get the job.

Any chance of Brees or a wild card?

The idea of Brees riding in on a white horse falls into the “never say never” category — especially if the Saints run into more injury trouble down the road. But for now, there has been no indication it’s being considered, and Brees shot down the suggestion Sunday night in his role as an NBC analyst.

Meanwhile, Payton rejected the idea of bringing in someone from the outside Monday, saying multiple times he is satisfied with his current QB room.

Are the Saints still playoff contenders?


The task is decidedly more difficult now, but the Saints were 5-0 in 2020 with Teddy Bridgewater as the starter and 3-1 with Hill, and they are a combined 5-2 this season with Winston and Siemian. Plus they were 9-3 last season with Brees as their starter, even though he wasn’t playing anywhere near his peak form and later admitted he was fully healthy for one game.

The point is, this is no longer a team that lives and dies by quarterback play alone. The Saints rank 31st in the NFL in pass attempts per game and completion percentage this season. They need to get better in those areas, for sure. But they will remain competitive because they have one of the league’s best coaching staffs, defenses, offensive lines and running back combos (Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram II).

What does this mean for Winston?

Unfortunately, the 27-year-old is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2022. It’s hard to imagine the Saints or another team making a stronger commitment to him in terms of money or contract length coming off a torn ACL.

However, Winston helped to enhance his reputation during his seven-game stint as New Orleans’ starter and should remain a candidate to retain the job in 2022, considering the Saints won’t have a premium draft choice or much salary-cap space.

Winston wasn’t perfect, with a completion percentage of 59% and an average of 178.4 passing yards in the five games he finished. But he answered the biggest question — whether he could cut down on the turnovers that plagued his career in Tampa – while still providing a big-play threat.

Winston finished with 14 touchdown passes, three interceptions and one lost fumble, with the highest passer rating of his career at 102.8.

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New England Patriots throw just three passes, dominate on the ground in win over Buffalo Bills



ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Taking the ball out of rookie quarterback Mac Jones‘ hands in wind gusts over 40 miles per hour, and relying on their running game, the New England Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 14-10 at Highmark Stadium on Monday night to enter their bye week as the No. 1 seed in the AFC.

Overall, Jones was just 2-of-3 for 19 yards, while the Patriots ran for 222 yards on 46 carries.

The three passing attempts are the fewest ever in Patriots history, while the two completions match their fewest, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The three pass attempts were the fewest by any team since the Bills attempted just two in Week 3 of the 1974 season (vs. the New York Jets).

The Patriots’ fewest pass attempts in a game was previously five, which came in the 1982 “Snow Plow” game against the Miami Dolphins in Foxborough, Massachusetts – a game played in a driving snowstorm that was scoreless in the fourth quarter when stadium worker Mark Henderson drove a tractor on to the field to clear a spot for the only field goal of the game.

The Patriots improve to 9-4, with the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs all 8-4. The Bills, meanwhile, drop to 7-5 and their margin for error to win the AFC East has been thinned.

Jones threw just one pass in the first half — when the Patriots led 11-7 at the break — and completed it for 12 yards. The pass sailed high in the wind and tight end Jonnu Smith pulled it down.

That was the fewest first-half pass attempts by a team since at least 1978, which is as far back as data is available, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The previous record was two, which happened three times, most recently by the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14 of 2017 — also in Buffalo, in snowy conditions.

Overall, Jones’ only other completion was a screen pass in the fourth quarter.

The only other games in Patriots history in which they completed just two passes came in December of 1982, and November of 1969 — both against the Miami Dolphins.

Their one passing first down tied for the second fewest in franchise history, and was their fewest since Dec. 4, 1983. The Pittsburgh Steelers were the last team in the NFL that won a game with one or fewer passing first downs, doing so in 2010 with Dennis Dixon as their quarterback.

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Potential No. 1 pick Kayvon Thibodeaux to declare for NFL draft, skip Oregon Ducks’ bowl game



Star Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux is declaring for the NFL draft, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday.

Thibodeaux will not play in the Ducks’ bowl game, a matchup against No. 16 Oklahoma in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29, and instead will start preparing for the draft, sources said.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Thibodeaux rated No. 1 overall in his latest Big Board. Fellow ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay has him as the No. 2-rated prospect in this year’s draft class.

The 6-foot-5 Thibodeaux was the Pac-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year in 2019 and a first-team All-Pac-12 selection last year after arriving at Oregon as the No. 1-ranked player in the class of 2019. He played 10 games this season — an ankle injury slowed him up early — and finished with seven sacks and 49 total tackles.

Thibodeaux was also at the forefront of players’ ability to capitalize on their name, image and likeness. He signed a handful of deals, including one with Ebay, another with United Airlines and a six-figure memorabilia deal. He also released an NFT in partnership with Nike founder Phil Knight and sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield that sold for $100 per unit. In September, he launched his own cryptocurrency called $JREAM.

Thibodeaux’s early exit came on the same day Mario Cristobal left Oregon to take the head-coaching position at Miami.

Information from ESPN’s Paolo Uggetti was used in this report.

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New York Giants QB Daniel Jones (neck) unlikely to play vs. Los Angeles Chargers, sources say



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — After further visits with team doctors and specialists to have his neck injury evaluated, New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is unlikely to play Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Chargers, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Jones missed Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins. He was injured the previous week in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Giants (4-8) remain hopeful he won’t miss much more time and will return this season.

Mike Glennon started in Jones’ place on Sunday, but was diagnosed with a concussion after the contest. That puts newly acquired quarterback Jake Fromm potentially in line to start against the Chargers. It only adds to questions about whether Jones has done enough in his first three professional seasons to convince the Giants — and potentially a new general manager — that he is a true franchise quarterback they should build around.

Fromm, a University of Georgia standout, was signed off the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad last week. He has never played in an NFL game and could be making his first start 11 days after joining the team.

“It’s the beauty of the NFL. It’s next man up. Jake is getting his opportunity,” said Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas, who was also his teammate at Georgia. “I’m excited for him to get his chance. But like I said, next man up, and we’re doing everything to help him.”

The Giants also have former Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke on their practice squad. He seems to have been immediately jumped by Fromm on the depth chart.

Judge said that Fromm would be next in line this week at practice with Jones and Glennon sidelined. The Giants might still add additional contingencies.

“We’re talking internally about a lot of options personnel-wise to see what we can do and build in depth for a multitude of reasons,” coach Joe Judge said.

Judge said after the game in Miami that Glennon would remain the starter if healthy while Jones remained sidelined. But Glennon’s status is in doubt and might not be decided until late this week.

He’s currently in the concussion protocol.

“The optimistic view would be to have [Glennon] ready for the game on Sunday,” Judge said during a Monday afternoon conference call from Arizona, where the Giants are practicing this week.

New York is also dealing with COVID-19 issues. Offensive lineman Wes Martin and quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski tested positive on Monday, per Judge.

Martin was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday afternoon. Schuplinski was involved in meetings virtually throughout the day as the Giants try to get Fromm coached up quickly for a potential start.

Having Fromm start would provide some limitations.

“For a guy who has only been in your system for a couple days, you have to go ahead and select more of a menu what he can operate with in a game,” Judge said. “That is not always based on what he’s capable of with his ability, it’s just based on being new in a scheme and system and what he’s comfortable going out there and playing aggressively and making the right decisions within.”

Fromm has crammed hard since joining the Giants. He stayed after practice on Friday last week and did extra work with Jones there to provide input.

The fifth-round pick by the Buffalo Bills last year has made a positive first impression.

“He’s an intelligent guy. He’s demonstrated that already,” Judge said. “He has very good poise out there and he has a very good presence. Once thing that is very impressive about this guy is you talk to former teammates of his, like we did before he got in here, most of those Georgia guys, and every single one lit up and said we’d absolutely love to have that guy on the team.”

The bar won’t be especially high. The Giants failed to score a touchdown on Sunday in Miami. They have one touchdown in the two games since offensive coordinator Jason Garrett was fired.

Glennon went 23-of-44 for 187 yards with an interception against the Dolphins.

Jones has completed 64.3% of his passes for 2,428 yards with 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.

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