The New Orleans Saints open the 2021 season on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. The game will be played at TIAA Stadium in Jacksonville after Hurricane Ida forced relocation from New Orleans. The loss of home-field advantage is a major storyline for the Saints. The matchup with the Packers is a difficult one, especially on a neutral field. Green Bay won in New Orleans 37-30 in Week 3 last season.
The Saints Week 1 game plan will start with trying to slow down quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The defense will need all hands on deck to do so. The team will also need a strong performance from their new starting quarterback.
Three Players in the Spotlight for Saints Week 1 Game
The unique circumstances of this game make it one of the most difficult on the schedule for New Orleans. Following Sunday’s game, the team travels to face the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots. There is optimism that the Week 4 home game against the New York Giants will be played in the Caesars Superdome.
Getting out to a 1-0 start would be a monumental boost for the Saints.
One of the keys to the game is Jameis Winston keeping up with Rodgers. More accurately, Winston needs to limit the mistakes that have plagued his career.
The defense will also be tasked with trying to slow down the Rodgers to Davante Adams combination.
All Eyes on New Starting Quarterback Winston
With Drew Brees now doing television, the reins to the offense belong to Winston. What has made the Saints successful over the years has been avoiding mistakes then striking for the big play The former first overall pick is certainly capable of the highlight reel passes. Winston has a 33 touchdown season under his belt with over 5,000 yards passing.
The ability to avoid mistakes is where the rubber meets the road for the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers passer. It has been well documented that during that same 2019 season, Winston threw 30 interceptions. After spending most of the 2020 season learning the Saints system, the signal-caller is grateful to have another chance to start.
Jameis Winston on being named Saints starting QB: “It’s been more than a year removed for me having an opportunity and I’m not taking anything for granted. And I’m just blessed and grateful… And I’m grateful to my teammates for pushing me, I’m grateful to Taysom for pushing me."
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) September 8, 2021
Winston won the quarterback competition over Taysom Hill in training camp. The first preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens saw him complete seven of 12 passes for 96 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Winston was much better in the second game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Florida State standout clearly took the starting job that night. Winston completed nine of his 10 passes for 123 yards with two beautiful touchdowns to Marquez Callaway. Most importantly, he did not turn the ball over. Head coach Sean Payton would love to see a repeat on Sunday.
Saints Week 1 Plan Must Include an Answer for Packers Passing Game
It is no secret that Rodgers loves throwing the ball to Adams. The two connected for 18 touchdowns last season on 115 completions. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore will be tasked with trying to slow Adams down. The pass rush will need to hurry the Packers quarterback as much as possible.
Rodgers has a knack for getting out of tight spots and making plays happen out of thin air. Cam Jordan and the rest of the defensive line will have their work cut out for them.
It is unlikely that the team can completely shut down Green Bay’s passing attack. Limiting the damage and perhaps creating a turnover or two would go a long way. This game and the season, in general, may come down to Winston being careful with the football. Keeping the ball away from Rodgers is the best way to ensure he does not score.
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