Jameis Winston, Dennis Allen lead Saints into the 2022 NFL Season

Benny Greenspan, Staff Reporter

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As we enter the first week of the NFL season, the New Orleans Saints hope to reestablish themselves as a contending franchise after missing the playoffs last season. However, with Jameis Winston’s return from injury, a first year head coach in Dennis Allen and a loaded NFC conference, the road to make the playoffs is not going to be easy. 

Let’s start with starting quarterback Jameis Winston, who tore his ACL during the Saint’s week eight victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the six and a half games he played, Winston averaged just 167 yards per game with 14 touchdowns. That being said, the Saints plummeted as a whole once Winston went down, finishing 4-7 after Winston led the team to a 4-2 start. 

Winston enters the 2022 NFL season being surrounded by significantly better weapons than his first year as the Saints starting quarterback. Not only is Pro Bowl wide receiver Michael Thomas returning from injury, but the Saints sought out receivers in both free agency and the draft, signing Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry and drafting Ohio State star wideout Chris Olave with the 11th overall pick. With better options around him, the pressure is on Winston to perform this year and lead this team back into the playoffs. 

Luckily for Jameis Winston, he gets to share the pressure with first year head coach Dennis Allen. Allen was the defensive coordinator under Sean Payton for the past seven seasons and was given the job after Payton’s unlikely retirement at the beginning of the offseason. Allen looks to maintain the culture the Payton established in New Orleans, and is succeeding so far, as running back Mark Ingram said that he is “just keeping the DNA the same.” 

With the Saints defense finishing fourth in yards allowed and points allowed in the past three seasons under Allen, having the same DNA might just be a good thing. Not to mention, the defense only got better with the addition of Pro Bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu

Despite the additions on both sides of the ball, the Saints have a tough road ahead if they want to compete in the NFC. This season, in addition to playing against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers twice, the Saints are going to have to play against a tough AFC North and NFC West, with notable matchups against the Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams and the runner up Cincinnati Bengals.  

While the path to the playoffs is not going to be an easy one, Winston, Allen and the competitive roster around them are looking to put New Orleans and the Saints back on the map as a contending NFL franchise.

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