Winston capped off the New Orleans Saints’ two opening drives with beautiful deep touchdown passes to second-year Tennessee product Marquez Callaway to give the team a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Winston then went to the bench, and New Orleans’ defense took no prisoners in its efforts against Jaguars’ Trevor Lawrence and company. The Saints won 23-21.
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The pregame magic show sparked brilliance in Winston. The veteran signal-caller took massive strides in his race for the Saints’ starting quarterback job against the Jaguars, completing 9-of-10 passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Callaway was on the receiving end for both of Winston’s scores, which were arguably the best throws of Winston’s NFL career. He first went for more than 40 air yards and dropped into Callaway’s outstretched hands in the end zone, and the second was eerily similar but went just 28 yards through the air.
Taysom Hill had an up-and-down performance following Winston’s electric start. Hill completed just 11-of-20 passes for 138 yards and a score (against backups in the second half). He was a bit erratic with his ball placement and didn’t add enough with his legs to come close to the success of Winston’s efforts. Hill also held onto the ball a bit long on a handful of dropbacks and took two sacks.
Second-year Notre Dame product Tony Jones Jr. had a notable 11-yard carry early in the game, but the fireworks burned out quickly in the Saints’ backfield. Jones rushed for just 13 yards on his four other carries, whereas veterans Latavius Murray and DeVonta Freeman combined for 24 yards on 11 carries in Jones’ stead.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
|Tony Jones Jr.||HB||14||3||1||4||9||0||4||9||0.3||0%|
|Easop Winston Jr.||WR||5||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||80%|
Have yourself a day, Callaway. The second-year UDFA created separation deep on multiple occasions, and Winston rewarded him with two perfectly placed deep balls for scores. Callaway finished the game with five receptions for 104 yards and those two scores. With veteran Michael Thomas expected to miss significant time due to injury, Callaway may just be the next man up in New Orleans.
Ty Montgomery and Lil-Jordan Humphrey didn’t steal any spotlight away from Callaway, but the duo still stood out from the wide receiver room. Montgomery caught three passes for 53 yards, and Humprhey caught four for 74 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass from Hill in the third quarter.
|Name||POS||OFF||LT Snaps||LG Snaps||C Snaps||RG Snaps||Rt Snaps|
|Derrick Kelly II||T||10||0||0||0||0||10|
Relative to the Jags’ offensive line, the Saints had a banner night in the trenches. None of New Orleans’ quarterbacks faced consistent pressure, as both James Hurst and Terron Armstead earned 80.0-plus PFF pass-blocking grades on first review of the broadcast film.
Four-year veteran edge defender Marcus Davenport should finish PFF’s grade review process as one of the game’s highest-graded players. He had his way with Jaguars rookie offensive tackle Walker Little in the run game and when rushing the passer. Jacksonville simply had no answer for him.
Third-year UDFA Chase Hansen and second-year Wisconsin product Zack Baun both played significant snaps at off-ball linebacker, but neither made any notable splash plays. Hansen, Baun and Demario Davis, however, combined for four total pressures on 10 combined pass-rush opportunities.
It was impossible to watch Monday’s game and not notice Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The Saints defensive back consistently made his way to the football and chirped at Jags players after nearly every play. He recorded six combined tackles and one pass breakup before exiting the game in the second quarter.
Veteran safety Marcus Williams should finish the review process with a high PFF grade. He didn’t play a ton of snaps in the game, but he did come up with a defensive stop and pass breakup in his limited opportunities.
Both Lawrence and second-year fan-favorite Gardner Minshew had performances to forget against New Orleans. Lawrence completed just 14-of-23 passes for 113 yards and took one sack, and Minshew went just 13-of-21 for 149 yards and an interception.
Lawrence’s best play of the night was a nine-yard run to move the chains on a scramble. His porous offensive line didn’t do him any favors, but Lawrence missed a handful of throws he should have made and failed to string together enough successful plays in any single drive to put the ball in the end zone. He also fired a pass right to safety Marcus Williams’ hands on a pressured dropback.
Minshew missed rookie Jalen Camp streaking wide open deep down the field simply because he couldn’t put enough on the deep ball, and none of his other dropbacks made up for it. He also threw a costly interception in the red zone before getting benched for CJ Beathard.
Wildly enough, Beathard was one of the few Jaguars players to actually breathe life into the team. He completed 9-of-14 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns against the depth of the Saints roster to bring the team within three points of the lead in the final three minutes of the game.
It was a bad night to be a Jaguars running back. The offensive line was nothing short of disastrous in the run game, and the backs paid the price.
Second-year Illinois State back James Robinson had the longest run of the night for the team at 10 yards. Remove that lone highlight from the sample, and the Jacksonville running backs combined for 1.4 yards per carry.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
|Laviska Shenault Jr.||WR||19||8||5||36||17||0||7.2||3.4||1.9||68%|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||WR||12||5||4||41||9||0||10.3||2.3||3.4||58%|
Lackluster performances from both Lawrence and Minshew kept the Jags’ receiving corps from standing out. Second-year Idaho wideout Jeff Cotton Jr. came on late with a handful of receptions, including a fourth-quarter touchdown from Beathard, and finished the game with a team-high 50 yards on four receptions.
Starters Brandon Linder and Andrew Norwell both didn’t play Monday night due to injuries, and Lawrence was made well aware of their absences. While projected starters AJ Cann and Jawaan Taylor weren’t complete liabilities, Walker Little and Ben Bartch both turned in ugly performances in pass protection. Davenport took it to Little on multiple occasions, and Bartch was nearly just as bad on the interior.
Jacksonville’s stable of backs constantly battled through contact at and behind the line of scrimmage and averaged fewer than 2.3 yards per carry as a unit.
Rookie Jay Tufele played fewer than 20 total defensive snaps, but he still had a quarterback hurry and a defensive stop against the Saints. No other Jaguars pass-rusher recorded an 80.0-plus PFF pass-rushing grade on first review.
Fellow rookie Jordan Smith was one of very few Jaguars players to initially earn an 80.0-plus overall grade in the game. The former UAB standout was stout against the run and recorded four combined tackles.
Veteran Myles Jack was an obvious bright spot for the Jaguars’ first-team defense. He totaled three solo tackles, and each was charted as a defensive stop. Shaquille Quarterman and Damien Wilson were the only two other Jaguars linebackers with any defensive stops in the game, and they combined for just two total.
|Name||DEF||DLine Snaps||Box Snaps||ILB Snaps||OLB Snaps||SS Snaps||FS snaps||Slot CB||CB Snaps|
Newly signed free agent cornerback Shaquill Griffin gave up more than 90 yards in coverage and both touchdowns to Callaway in the game. It was — without a doubt — a performance to forget for the 26-year-old veteran.