Jameis Winston has been here before.
Not as a New Orleans Saint, but in his career, yes.
He's had a standout performance (70 percent completions, five touchdowns, no interceptions, no sacks in the 38-3 victory over Green Bay to open the season) that was followed by a not-so-shiny offering (50 percent completions, no touchdowns, two interceptions, four times sacked in the 26-7 loss to Carolina on Sunday).
In Winston's worst statistical season in terms of touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio, when he had 33 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in 2019 for Tampa Bay, he had five games with more interceptions than touchdown passes, totaling 18 interceptions and six touchdowns. Four times, he came back and threw at least as many touchdowns as interceptions the next game, totaling eight touchdowns and six interceptions.
Winston has seen plenty in a seven-year NFL career that spans 78 games and 72 starts. So the veteran quarterback has a simple solution to remedying a poor offensive showing.
"I think the biggest thing is just having the ability of bouncing back," Winston said Wednesday. "Building on the positives and eliminating the mistakes, not having that same mistake show up, not having that same action show up. Hopefully, the main thing is going out there competing and being your best. But you don't want to have the same thing show up throughout the course of the season."
What showed up offensively for Winston and the Saints against the Panthers – or, perhaps more accurately, what didn't show up – was a collective effort, Coach Sean Payton said. And the totality of it led to one of New Orleans' poorest offensive showings since Payton was hired in 2006: Six first downs, 128 total yards, 2 for 11 on third down, 43 offensive plays and 11 times Winston was hit, in addition to the sacks.
"I think the biggest thing is being in better first-down and second-down efficiency, now putting yourself in a position to make plays at the end of the game, when you have to push the ball down the field," Winston said. "Understanding that just because you're capable of making a play doesn't mean you necessarily should make it. I think it starts with just the overall rhythm of the game, as an offense, as myself. And just going out there and executing.
"The biggest thing is just being better on first and second down, to give ourselves a great chance percentage-wise on third down. Developing a rhythm would be the second thing. We're trying to constantly stay in good down and distance, move the ball, execute third down so we can keep drives sustained. And the third thing would just be communication, making sure that everybody is getting the call, making sure that everybody is on the same page so we can all play fast and execute to our highest level."
In his first year as a starter for the Saints, Winston said trusting the process is key. Last season, when he served as one of Drew Brees' backups, Winston said the time he spent studying Brees highlighted the need simply to make the right decision, even when that means throwing the ball away or taking a sack.
"You just trust the process," he said. "You clean up the mistakes and you build on the positives. That's the main thing. This team – we're a winning team, we know how to win, we're resilient and we're going to be that. We just have to execute a little bit better, communicate a little bit better and get the job done."