Saints Stole Jameis Winston’s TD Play From Bears’ Playbook

Winston Saints Trick Play

Getty Quarterback Jameis Winston #2 of the New Orleans Saints shares a smile during the second half of their game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The New Orleans Saints seem to have walked away from last weekend’s wild-card game over the Chicago Bears with a little more than just a win in their pockets.

One week after eliminating the Bears from the playoffs, the Saints took on Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home in the Superdome for the right to advance and face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, in the end losing 30-20 in what may come to be known as the final game of Drew Brees’ career. There was a play in the second quarter, however, that might have looked familiar to Bears fans.

If it doesn’t ring any bells, take a look at the side-by-side comparison below:

Saints Execute Where Bears Failed

The Bears had tried the exact same play one week earlier against them in the wild-card game, using a wildcat formation to create misdirection and free up a wide-open Javon Wims downfield. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky threw one of the finest passes of his season, a 40-yard dime that fell into Wims’ hands in the end zone … and slipped right through his fingers.

The Saints, who were quite literally laughing at the detrimental dropped pass, didn’t just appreciate how poorly it ended for the Bears. Seeing its potential, Sean Payton found a place for it in his playbook and ran it the next week with backup quarterback Jameis Winston, who airdropped it into the hands of Tre’Quan Smith for a 56-yard touchdown.

The play was hardly an original for either the Saints or Bears — the New York Jets ran a play with striking similarities as far back as 2008 — but seeing the way it succeeded for New Orleans makes one in Chicago wonder whether things might be different if Wims could have secured the ball. Then again, it didn’t stop the Bucs from finishing off the Saints.

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Is Javon Wims Done in Chicago?

The Bears have some things to figure out about their receiving room before the 2021 season, but Wims’ costly drop in the wild-card game could be the final straw after three years of trying to prove himself in Chicago.

Originally a seventh-round pick in 2018, Wims had an understated start to his career with just four receptions for 32 yards as a rookie, struggling to crack a rotation that featured Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Tarik Cohen and Anthony Miller. He saw much more action in 2019, particularly when Gabriel missed time in concussion protocal, and ironically ended up catching his first career touchdown against … the Saints.

A third-year leap wasn’t in the cards for Wims, though. While he played in 13 games in 2020, he caught just six of his 12 targets and disappeared in the receiving hierarchy behind not only Robinson, Mooney and Miller but also tight ends Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet and running backs David Montgomery and Cordarrelle Patterson. He was also ejected and suspended for two games in November for punching Saints cornerback C.J. Gardner-Johnson.

Even putting the suspension aside, Wims simply hasn’t done much to convince the Bears he can be a serviceable receiver for the future. He touts a measily 28 catches for 266 yards and two touchdowns through 33 career games and lacks upside both Mooney and Miller possess. There’s also the fact that cutting Wims would save the Bears more than $900,000 in cap space for the upcoming offseason.

Don’t rule out Wims just yet as the pending departure for Robinson in free agency may force the Bears to keep their 2021 receiving options open. Maybe they will give him a shot at competing for a roster spot in training camp, but chances are good they will cut their losses with him if another wideout is added as a free agent or draftee this spring.

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