NFL Week 1 Notebook: Jameis Winston’s a New Man
A look back at a wild NFL Week 1.
We don’t know who this Jameis Winston is.
Sure, the New Orleans Saints QB isn’t a stranger by any means. Winston has been in the NFL since 2015 and he’s been to the Pro Bowl and was the Rookie of the Year. He even led the league in passing yardage in 2019. He jumped into the national consciousness even earlier, though, as the 2013 Heisman Trophy Winner—along with a slew of other college football awards to go with his BCS National Championship.
Yet, this Jameis Winston? This is someone new.
Against the Green Bay Packers in Week 1, Winston went 14/20 for 148 yards. That isn’t world beater stuff, but five touchdowns and zero interceptions? That’s just absurd. That he did it without wide receiver Michael Thomas only furthers the absurdity. Winston hit eight different receivers with his 14 completions—many of whom an average NFL fan couldn’t pick out of a lineup with multiple hints.
Moreover, Winston looked like a completely different person both during the game in huddles and on the sideline as well as after the game. He’s poised. He’s professional. He’s saying the right things. He’s doing the right things. He’s operating within a system that fits his talents perfectly and he’s making the throws he’s always been able to make while staying away from the mistakes and immaturity that has defined him.
Jokingly, former Saints QB Drew Brees said that Winston’s arm strength was “what the Saints have been missing.” It was a hilarious moment of self-deprecating humor from the future Hall of Famer but...it wasn’t that far off the mark.
I was one of the 92 percent of people who picked the Packers to beat Jameis Winston and the Saints. After spending an entire offseason saying good things about Winston, head coach Sean Payton and the Saints in general, the Packers still seemed like too tough of a matchup. Instead, I’m scratching out “Aaron Rodgers” on my way-too-early MVP ballot and wondering if it’s supposed to have Winston’s name on it instead.
What We All Got Wrong...But Should’ve Gotten Right
80 percent of us thought the Tennessee Titans were going to take care of business at home against the Arizona Cardinals as well. That went...um...less than ideally for the Titans, and Cardinals QB Kylar Murray looked every bit the part of trigger man for the highflying Air Raid offense head coach Kliff Kingsbury is famous for. Like with the Saints, I’ve been high on the Cardinals (reasonably so in such a tough NFC West) but it was as if all of us thought a plane ride was going to be their doom.
I’m as guilty of perpetuating this as anyone—probably more so—but it’s possible that the narrative around the Houston Texans may have gotten a little overboard. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have floundered as frequently this offseason, 79 percent chose Jacksonville. Maybe QB Tyrod Taylor deserves a little respect and that Texans’ roster isn’t as bad as we all thought.
What None of us Could’ve Saw Coming
91 percent of us took the Buffalo Bills to take down the Pittsburgh Steelers, yet it was defensive end T.J. Watt and the Steelers defensive front that got the job done on the road. The new offense by offensive coordinator Matt Canada looked merely fine but that was enough to hold off Bills quarterback Josh Allen and Co. who could not gain their footing. We knew that defensive front was going to be a problem, but the Bills looked like a juggernaut last season.
While most thought that the Atlanta Falcons would be rough this season, almost 80 percent thought that the Philadelphia Eagles were even worse. Now, heading into Week 2, we’re talking about the Eagles having one of the better offensive lines in the league, QB Jalen Hurts looking like an absolute stud and a defense all of us were underrating throughout the offseason.
Cleaning Out the Notebook
— Shoutout to Phil Harrison of College Football News/Buckeyes Wire for having the best picks this week heading into Monday Night Football. Week 1 is notoriously a crapshoot, and going 12-3 through Sunday’s action is extremely good.
— Another shoutout to my Three & Out co-host Samantha Bunten of NBC Sports for calling that Texans/Jaguars game correctly. It’s not easy to spend the entire offseason ragging on an organization and then say, “Yeah, but they’re not “lose to the Jaguars at home, bad.”
— Alabama quarterbacks had themselves a day in Week 1. Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa and Hurts both got wins and while Mac Jones fell short for the New England Patriots, he had them in position in his first NFL game.
— The Detroit Lions aren’t going to be good this season, but man are they infinitely more watchable than under former head coach Matt Patricia.
— Matthew Stafford, my word...
— Rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase couldn’t catch a cold in the preseason and now looks like an early front runner for Rookie of the Year.
— QB Patrick Mahomes could be down 50, and I would still be on the edge of my seat waiting to see how he’s going to come back.
—88 percent of the field is picking the Baltimore Ravens tonight, but with their recent injury history, could we be in for one more Week 1 surprise.
— By the way, how good is Drew Brees on TV? Completely expected, but still. He did great.
— If you’re following Pickwatch on the various social media platforms, you’re going to see us upping our game in the coming days, weeks and months. We’ve brought on a couple of social media interns who are already doing some great work! Izzy Zakia and Catie Naughton are both pros, and you can see their Pickwatch exploits on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and (as of yesterday) TikTok.
— No, I will not be doing any TikTok dances. You're welcome.
— As always, Upset Watch had itself a week with it’s predictions. If you want to get a leg up on your Week 2 picks, make sure you sign up for Pickwatch Pro so you can get those winning insights.