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After Further Review: Five takes from the Saints win over Jaguars

New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) reacts after throwing a touchdown pass in the...
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) reacts after throwing a touchdown pass in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in New Orleans, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021.(Derick Hingle | AP)
Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:33 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Winston seizes the moment

This Saints quarterback competition was in desperate need of a moment. For far too long neither player had taken hold of the battle. No one had really separated themselves.

It finally came Monday night against Jacksonville.

Better late than never.

The setting was perfect for Jameis Winston: preseason home opener, primetime game, inferior opponent and the starting Saints offensive line on the field.

Winston took full advantage. He completed his first six passes, finishing 9/10 for 123 yards, and two deep touchdowns to Marquez Callaway (more on that later). He looked sharp and decisive. Above all else, Winston showed how good he can be when he is on his game.

Winston is now firmly in the lead in quarterback battle and has the inside track to be the starter when the season opens against Green Bay on September 12th.

Take Two: Taysom’s time

Hill had the misfortune of having to follow an incredible start by Winston. And for the first time this entire camp/preseason, Hill looked like he pressed.

Hill never looked comfortable and held on to the ball too long. There were moments where it felt like he could have used his legs but never did.

Hill’s best two drives came when he led the team to a field goal at the end of the first half. Then, he threw a beauty to Lil’ Jordan Humphrey for his lone touchdown pass.

There’s no denying Hill made strides as a passer, and has competed like crazy all camp to win the job. One could even argue his game with the starters was more difficult than Winston considering who he played with (only three starting offensive linemen), and against (Baltimore Ravens) during his time with the first team.

But even with those circumstances, it’s impossible to ignore where things feel like they stand right now in this battle.

Take Three: Marquez Callaway shines

From undrafted free agent a year ago, to the team’s top wide receiver (with Michael Thomas out). What a meteoric rise it’s been for Marquez Callaway.

Callaway has been outstanding from day one of camp, and has never looked back. Monday night against the Jaguars was his best effort yet. He finished with five receptions, 105 yards and two scores. His first touchdown was a deep post from Winston where the safety didn’t even look for the ball and instead crashed into Callaway, who never lost his concentration and came down with the touchdown.

On his second score, Callaway beat the press man coverage on a nine route and reeled the ball in with one hand just inside the pylon.

Above all else, the thing that jumps out with Callaway is his body language. He carries himself with the confidence needed to be a top receiver. His game has backed up that confidence.

The real challenge will come when the games start counting. The tape is a funny thing in the NFL. Callaway is no longer a secret, and teams will game plan him with their best defensive backs.

Take Four: Tony Jones Jr. emerges

Fresh off an impressive effort against the Ravens, Tony Jones, Jr. was with the starting lineup Monday. That’s a significant development.

Jones had a more modest night from a numbers standpoint, but the fact that he was in there so early may be a sign that he’s moved up the depth chart. It could also mean some veterans should probably take notice of the youngster. Because he could be taking someone’s job really soon.

Take Five: Other Observations

- It’s impossible to ignore the improvement of Ken Crawley. He had a terrific PBU in the second quarter, and played a deep ball perfectly on the sideline earlier in the game.

- Marcus Davenport continues to wreak havoc.

- Latavius Murray has not had a good preseason.

- After committing six turnovers a week ago in Baltimore, the Saints were turnover-free Monday.

- Two drops by Kevin White. Not good for a guy hoping to catch onto the roster.

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