Bill Belichick: Jameis Winston is a really good quarterback

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers
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For many years, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Saints head coach Sean Payton didn’t have to worry about developing a new starting quarterback.

That changed for Belichick last year when Tom Brady signed with the Buccaneers. It changed for Payton in 2021 with Drew Brees’ retirement.

Now New England is starting a rookie in Mac Jones and New Orleans has a former No. 1 overall pick in Jameis Winston as QB1.

Belichick has coached against Winston once — back in 2017 when the Patriots beat the Buccaneers 19-14. But Belichick isn’t publicly underestimating the Saints’ new starting QB.

“He’s a really good quarterback,” Belichick said Wednesday, via Ryan Hannable of WEEI. “He threw for 5,000 yards in Tampa, so it’s not like this guy hasn’t been productive. He’s big. He’s strong. He’s accurate. He’s got good touch on the ball. The offense that he ran in Tampa was a lot different than the offense he’s running in New Orleans. But fundamentally this is a big strong guy who can throw the ball accurately. He’s very good down the field. He’s a tough guy to tackle. He’s strong in the pocket. He can make every throw on the field. He’s pretty good.”

Winston threw for five touchdowns in New Orleans’ Week One victory over Green Bay. But he didn’t have nearly as much success against Carolina last week, finishing 11-of-22 passing for 111 yards with a pair of interceptions. He was also sacked four times, though he did run for a touchdown.

Belichick pointed out that Winston is capable of making plays with his legs.

“If you’ve seen him run with the ball, I don’t know why you’d want him to run with the ball in space,” Belichick said. “I don’t think that’s a good idea at all. He’s hard to tackle. He’s fast. Runs over people. I don’t think you want him running wild in your secondary.”

Winston rushed for six touchdowns as a rookie but has only five rushing TDs since 2016.

This will be a significant game for Winston, who could use a more positive performance following last week’s dud against a division rival.