Jameis Winston's five touchdowns helped stun the Packers in New Orleans' Week 1 win. It also proved what Winston knows to be true as he embarks on his first season as the Saints' starting quarterback.
Winston threw for just 148 yards, far from a total that would indicate a quarterback lit up an opposing defense. He attempted just 20 passes. But he also threw five passes that resulted in scores for the Saints in a 38-3 triumph, including one to Deonte Harris that went for 55 yards.
Winston also received some significant help from tight end Juwan Johnson, who made two acrobatic catches for touchdowns on Winston throws that were either slightly off-target or tossed up with a defender within reach. And New Orleans' rushing attack provided a healthy balance, with Alvin Kamara totaling 83 rushing yards on 20 attempts, and backup Tony Jones running hard for a per-carry average that landed just shy of five yards.
The result was truly a sum of New Orleans' parts, for which Winston expressed gratitude following the victory.
"I'm grateful to be with this team," Winston told Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer. "I think anyone can see that this is a better team than I'd ever been with, so that brings comfort to any quarterback."
Winston seemed to be a better -- or a more controlled -- quarterback than he's ever been, too. The signal-caller who became notorious for making mind-numbing mistakes during his time in Tampa Bay avoided such errors in the win, taking what the defense gave him and almost entirely avoiding significant risk. The one risk he took -- a pass thrown over the middle into double coverage with Za'Darius Smith bearing down on him -- resulted in an interception that didn't end up counting, thanks to a questionable roughing the passer penalty on Smith.
As it turns out, Winston's year spent sitting behind future Hall of Famer Drew Brees was even more valuable than we might have thought.
"Drew [Brees] talks about that all the time -- it's about the process, the process of the entire game, four quarters, is about how can you accumulate the most right decision," Winston told Breer. "Because sometimes the right decision is throwing the ball away, or taking a sack or scrambling for a first down. It might not be trying to force that ball in. It's getting away from being result-oriented, which is me wanting to show out and give us numbers and get the win, into decision-oriented. Because over time, those decisions add up."
A decision-oriented approach produced a much-needed win for a Saints team that was forced out of its home of New Orleans by Hurricane Ida. The same approach could end up piling up victories, if Sunday is any indicator of future success.