The 2021 NFL preseason now has just one week left. In the final game of preseason Week 2, the New Orleans Saints defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars by a final score of 23-21.
The Saints came into this game expecting to put an end to their quarterback competition, and based on the results, they got an emphatic answer regarding which of Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill should be under center come Week 1. The Jaguars likely wanted to see their offense perform a bit better than it did with Trevor Lawrence under center, but offensive line play undermined their chances of getting good drives going with the No. 1 pick at the controls.
Neither team found much success in the running game (they combined to average just 2.6 yards per carry on 42 totes) but players like Marquez Callaway, Marvin Jones Jr., Lil'Jordan Humphrey, Josh Hammond, and even Tavon Austin made some nice plays in the air.
In the end, the lead the Saints staked themselves to early on (14-0 in the first quarter) was enough to hold up the rest of the way, despite C.J. Beathard and the third-team Jaguars offense staging a late rally.
Why the Saints won
The Jameis Winston-to-Marquez Callaway connection, mostly. The duo hooked up for a pair of long touchdowns on New Orleans' first two drives of the night, and that was all the Saints needed to come out on top. Callaway finished with five catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns despite playing only the first quarter, while Winston likely solidified his position as the Saints' Week 1 starter by going 9 of 10 for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Taysom Hill struggled to get anything going until throwing a jump-ball touchdown pass to Lil'Jordan Humphrey late in the third quarter. The New Orleans defense smothered Trevor Lawrence and the first-team Jacksonville offense for most of the first half as well, with C.J. Gardner-Johnson making several plays downfield.
Why the Jaguars lost
Their first-team offense struggled badly for almost the entire first half. The offensive line repeatedly let pressure get into Lawrence's face, and Lawrence in turn had to buy time and then throw late over the middle. They managed just three points on six first-half possessions with Lawrence at the helm, thanks in large part to the line play and overly conservative play-calling. Things did not improve much when Gardner Minshew took over in the second half. Minshew had a possible touchdown down the right sideline in the third quarter, but under-threw Jalen Camp by at least five yards and the pass was easily broken up. C.J. Beathard accounted for the team's only touchdowns, throwing two scores in what amounted to garbage time.
The first drive of the game, really.
Play(s) of the game
The Saints scored touchdowns on each of their first two drives, with each score coming on a deep ball from Winston to Callaway. The first was thrown into double coverage, but Winston got the ball over the top of the defense and Callaway was able to haul it in despite being blatantly interfered with on the play.
The second saw Callaway burn the Jaguars' big-money free-agent signing, Shaq Griffin, down the left sideline and make a one-handed snag in the front corner of the end zone.
The final week of the preseason. The Saints will presumably make some sort of official decision regarding their quarterback competition (given Sean Payton's comments this week), with the expectation being that Jameis Winston will start the team's Week 1 game against the Green Bay Packers. The Saints' final preseason tuneup is next Saturday against the Arizona Cardinals. The Jaguars' final preseason game is on Sunday agains the Dallas Cowboys.