New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston aims to keep emotions in check in the first start against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

October 28, 2021

METAIRIE, La. – Jameis Winston initially tried to downplay the importance of making his first start against his former team on Sunday when the New Orleans Saints host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, calling them “the next opponent.”

But the former No. 1 draft pick went on to explain that the main reason for that approach is because he doesn’t need any additional thrills or elements of revenge as he tries to revive his career in New Orleans.

“This week is great. But I mean, every week is great for me. By being out for a year, you get a chance to see how much you miss being away from this game,” said Winston, who spent last year as a backup behind Drew. . Brees after Tampa Bay decided to replace him with Tom Brady and won the Super Bowl.

“Yes, I’m playing the old team. But I love this game, and I’m trying to go out there and beat everyone that we play, no matter who it is,” said Winston, who has gone 4-2 as a starter with the Saints, though they are still chasing the Buccaneers 6-1 at the top of the NFC South rankings.

“I’ve always been an emotional soccer player,” added 27-year-old Winston. “I think that’s something I’m trying to work on: being present instead of being caught up in my feelings. As a quarterback, we have to be present all the time and be aware of everything that is going on. Sometimes, too much emotion can lead us to places we don’t want to go.

“Obviously I want to beat them, I want to beat them badly. And in my heart, I’m ready to rock. But at the end of the day they are another opponent – another opponent that we have to beat which is in this division. And they have a good team, they come here hot. So we have to defend ourselves and represent in our house. “

Saints coach Sean Payton joked that he doesn’t expect Winston to try to wreak havoc on the Buccaneers like Forest Whitaker’s character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High after his car was wrecked.

“He’s playing quarterback, so he needs to be precise, to the point, and I think he gets that,” Payton said. “I think he’s smart and mature enough to focus on the things that need to be done to win.”

Winston also insisted that it was not difficult for him to see the Buccaneers win a Super Bowl without him last year because he was happy for so many teammates he had played with from 2015-2019. And he said he never had to fight anger or bitterness after Tampa Bay let him go as a free agent.

“No, everything happens for a reason. And I’m very grateful for that organization and that the Glazer family gave me the opportunity to select the No. 1 overall in that city,” Winston said. “That city has done a lot for me, and I know I’ve done a lot for that city. That’s where I stay right now. So I definitely love that city … This week it’s time to play and all the love- the Dovey stuff. they are behind “.

Winston said there aren’t many charlatans in Tampa’s defense, but he may not have given his friend Jason Pierre-Paul enough credit.

“I can’t wait, I can’t wait. In fact, I’m going to text him and tell him to get ready,” Pierre-Paul said. “I can’t wait to play Jameis. It’s going to be fun. He’s like a brother to me. I remember we were hiking in the offseason in Colorado, but I can’t wait to hunt him down. It’s crazy, Jameis is a different kind of race “.

Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians noted that the biggest difference he has seen in Winston from the Saints is his use after Winston led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards while becoming the first player in league history in throwing at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in the same season during their year together in 2019.

“He’s probably shooting 15 times less per game,” Arians said. “They are playing with an advantage, and we did not have so many advantages that [season], so we had to throw it away. So yeah, he’s playing very, very well at the position. “

In fact, the Saints rank last in the NFL with just 25.8 pass attempts per game, and Winston averages just 185.7 passing yards per game. Winston’s completion percentage is just 58.9%, but he has a stellar TD-INT ratio of 13-3 and a passer rating of 102.4.

Deep balls remain a specialty for Winston, with four completions of more than 49 yards.

“I think he’s a really good quarterback in this league. I think he can really make plays that other guys can’t,” Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich said. “He makes plays that very few players in this league can make, so I always thought he was a special and unique guy. I feel the same way about him now.”

ESPN Buccaneers reporter Jenna Laine contributed to this report.