What We Saw: Jaguars at Saints

Jameis Winston makes a spectacular case to be New Orleans' starting quarterback this season.

Jaguars @ Saints

Final Score: Saints 23, Jaguars 21

Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

 

An electric first quarter from Jameis Winston and the New Orleans Saints set the tone for a dominant display from the Saints, who overcame rookie Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars to win this one easily. A couple of late touchdowns from third-string quarterback CJ Beathard polished some respectability on the scoreline for the Jags but when the first and second-string units were on the field, Sean Payton‘s New Orleans were at least a couple of levels above Urban Meyer‘s rebuilding Jacksonville side.

“Famous Jameis” certainly made his shots count today in the battle for the starting quarterback job with Taysom Hill.

 

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Quarterback

 

Trevor Lawrence: 14/23, 113 yards, sack | 1 carry, 9 yards

Gardner Minshew: 13/21, 149 yards, INT | 1 carry, 4 yards

CJ Beathard: 9/14, 121 yards, 2 TD

 

The toughness of the challenge in front of No.1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence was there for all to see last night. The sensation from Clemson looked assured if not rushed during his outing, which lasted until just short of half time. The offensive line is a big issue in Jacksonville, and it was missing a couple of starters yesterday, but Lawrence struggled to effectively find his receivers with the pressure put upon him. Lawrence was 0-for-5 on third-downs before a final drive where he finally managed to secure a couple of first downs as he tried to manufacture a score.

His main targets were impressive second-round receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. and veteran Marvin Jones Jr. That should be the case as we approach Week 1. On his best throw of the day, Lawrence made a big-time throw under pressure to find Shenault near the sideline.

 

 

He also felt the punch of an NFL defense at full go. He was sacked once due to holding onto the ball a little too long and he also took a monster hit from multiple sides as he ran for the first-down to put his team in with a chance to score. Urban Meyer will not want to see this happen again before the season starts.

 

 

Gardner Minshew threw a pick in a disappointing display from the expected backup. Whether CJ Beathard makes this team or not, he certainly brought the game today with two touchdown passes in the final quarter to save the Jags blushes. The first to Jeff Cotton was a lovely back-foot strike into the back corner of the endzone.

 

 

Running Back

 

James Robinson: 5 carries, 13 yards

Carlos Hyde: 3 carries, 7 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, -3 yards

Dare Ogunbowale: 5 carries, 7 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards

Devine Ozigbo: 2 carries, 4 yards | 6 targets, 2 receptions, 42 yards

Travis Etienne Jr.: 1 carry, 1 yard | 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards

Nathan Cottrell: 2 carries, 0 yards | 5 targets, 3 receptions, 36 yards

 

This was an ugly outing for the running back room as all three quarterbacks found themselves having to throw on third-and-long often. The offensive line didn’t help of course, but it seemed like every time the ball carrier looked for an opening, the defense met them at the line of scrimmage. Totaling just 32 yards on 18 carries is worrying. Only Devin Ozigbo got free the once, taking a screen 30 yards.

 

 

Somewhat worrying for fantasy purposes was the news that Travis Etienne Jr. was held out early after sustaining a mid-foot sprain that could sideline him for up to two months. That is a blow for this offense. Etienne and Lawrence know each other well from their Clemson days, so for the signal-caller not to have his security blanket for Week 1 is far from ideal.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Laviska Shenault Jr.: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 36 yards

Marvin Jones Jr.: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 41 yards

Tavon Austin: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 37 yards

Jeff Cotton: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 50 yards, TD

Josh Hammond: 1 target, 1 reception, 33 yards

Luke Farrell: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards

Collin Johnson: 1 target, 1 reception, 24 yards, TD

Tevin Jones:1 target, 1 reception, 13 yards

Ben Ellefson: 1 target, 1 reception, 13 yards

Laquon Treadwell: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards

Tyler Davis: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 12 yards

Phillip Dorsett: 2 targets

Jalen Camp: 2 targets

 

We’ve already seen the nice throw that Lawrence made to find Laviska Shenault Jr. on the sideline. The handy receiver also saw two other targets on third down which he caught but couldn’t make the yardage. Still, it looks like there is some chemistry brewing between the two.

Veteran Marvin Jones Jr. looks to be the guy Lawrence will look at downfield, and he finally hooked up with him for the Jaguars’ first first-down in the second quarter.

 

 

Second-year receiver Collin Johnson was seriously underused as a rookie and despite only drawing one target in this game, at least he made good use of it. Johnson ran a perfect inside-out route to beat his man and nab a high ball from Beathard for the Jaguars’ second score late in the fourth quarter.

 

 

New Orleans Saints

 

Quarterback

 

Jameis Winston: 9/10, 123 yards, 2 TD

Taysom Hill: 11/28, 138 yards, TD

Trevor Siemian: 4/8, 57 yards | 1 carry, -1 yards

 

Well, this is the Jameis Winston we know but without the silly mistakes. And that bodes well for the New Orleans Saints. Winston actually showed uncharacteristic restraint a couple of times in this outing. His only incompletion was actually encouraging as he stopped himself throwing a deep ball into coverage and instead threw the ball away. We wouldn’t have seen that two years ago.

The good was absolutely sensational. His first touchdown was a perfect deep ball out in front of depth receiver Marquez Callaway, who made a phenomenal play.

 

 

A sensational throw and an even better catch from the up-and-coming Callaway, who just did his ADP no harm at all. With Michael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith out and away from the team, there is a real opportunity for the 2020 undrafted receiver out of Tennessee.

Taysom Hill was less impressive, to say the least. He had a bad intentional grounding call on first down in his second series and looked slow in the pocket when identifying his reads. Payton did not allow Hill to run the ball at all, a wise move in the preseason but it showed the dual-threat Hill’s limitations for sure. He did throw for a touchdown, however. Lil’Jordan Humphrey making the grab on a contested ball for a 19-yard score late in the third quarter.

 

 

This was all about Jameis, however, who is now the clear favorite to open the season as the QB1 in New Orleans.

 

Running Back

 

Tony Jones Jr.: 5 carries, 24 yards | 3 targets, 1 reception, 4 yards

Latavius Murray: 4 carries, 6 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 4 yards

Devonta Freeman: 7 carries, 18 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 14 yards

Dwayne Washington: 4 carries, 16 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 39 yards

 

In a small surprise, Sean Payton heralded second-year running back Tony Jones Jr. out of Notre Dame as his backup to Alvin Kamara at this stage in the preseason. He led the backfield today and looked to be a tough straight-up-the-middle runner who moved well between the pads. He didn’t see the opportunities he got last week against the Ravens but after playing no part after the starters departed, that is more of a good sign for him at the minute.

Latavius Murray has been the most effective in spelling Kamara over the past two years but that role could diminish if Jones Jr. (who would be significantly cheaper in terms of the cap) continues to impress. That also doesn’t bode well for former Falcons lead back Devonta Freeman, who looks to be looking in from the outside as it stands.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Marquez Callaway: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 104 yards, 2 TD

Lil’Jordan Humphrey: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 74 yards, TD

Ty Montgomery: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 53 yards

Sutton Smith: 1 target, 1 reception, 12 yards

Juwan Johnson: 3 targets, 1 reception, 9 yards

Deonte Harris: 1 target, 1 reception, 3 yards

Nick Vannett: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards

Ethan Wolf: 1 target, 1 reception, 2 yards

Kevin White: 3 targets

Kawaan Baker: 1 target

Easop Winston Jr.: 1 target

 

Have a day, Marquez Callaway! After grappling with two Jaguars defenders for his first touchdown, he put himself firmly on the map in the NFL with a remarkable one-handed catch from another Jameis bomb to haul in his second score of the first quarter to put the Saints 14-0 up.

 

 

Lil’Jordan Humphrey is another guy who the Saints have developed over the past few years and he showed excellent ability to make plays in important situations again today. Mainly catching balls off Hill, as we saw with the touchdown, he has safe hands and the ability to make guys miss.

 

 

The receiver room in New Orleans is much changed but is also still a lottery at this stage. Both Callaway and Humphrey just earned themselves a front-row seat at the opportunity table thanks to today’s performances.

 

Photo by Dan Anderson/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter)

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