When Drew Brees left the New Orleans game in Week 10 with an injury to his ribs, it was Jameis Winston who got the most important quarterback snaps. Taysom Hill did not throw a pass.
But after a week of preparation, Hill was selected as the starter for Week 11 against the Falcons (3-6). Rather than picking the quarterback who made 33 touchdowns (and 30 interceptions) in 2019, Saints (7-2) coach Sean Payton picked the widely used gadget player Hill and his 18 regular season tickets. While the choice wasn’t made for just one reason, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on an important Sunday morning.
“Sean just wants to know,” wrote Rapoport, a source with knowledge of Payton’s thinking said.
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Why is Taysom Hill starting at QB for the Saints?
The Saints moved forward by signing Hill on a two-year, $ 21 million deal ahead of the 2020 season. They knew he was useful at least as a special team / tight end / wildcat quarterback combination. But that was a lot of money to pay for a gadget player.
Rapoport’s source alludes to this: Payton wants to know if Hill can be New Orleans’ starting quarterback going forward. Brees is 41 years old and is now facing an injury-related absence for the second time in a row. At some point, Payton’s New Orleans reign will coincide with a passerby other than Brees. Can Hill be that guy?
Sunday’s game will only determine Hill’s future prospects. The Falcons are one of the league’s worst pass defenses, and Payton likely changed his call-up plans to take greater advantage of Hill’s running. But the Ravens did leg work with Lamar Jackson. The Cardinals did it to Kyler Murray, and the Bills did it to a great quarterback like Hill in Josh Allen. It’s not obvious that Hill has the arm talent of any of these players, but there’s only one way to find out and Payton took this route from week 11 onwards.
What are the prospects for Jameis Winston?
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Hill’s Starting Sunday doesn’t stop Winston from being the New Orleans quarterback of the future. Winston signed a one-year deal for the 2020 season, probably in hopes of restoring its value to the way Teddy Bridgewater did a season ago before getting a big deal with Carolina.
Says Schefter, “Winston has impressed the Saints coaches and players and remains a potential part of New Orleans’ long-term plans.” Winston completed 6 out of 10 passes for 63 yards as relief against the 49ers, but it is possible that if Payton starts at any point in the future, he will create more downfield passes to take advantage of Winston’s superior arm strength compared to Brees.
Whether or not Winston’s next permanent NFL starts are in New Orleans likely depends on Hill’s game. If the next few weeks are a coming-out party for Hill, Winston could find a start job elsewhere in the off-season, and if the Saints’ reviews are positive, the former # 1 overall pick could find a soft landing.
How long has Drew Brees been out?
Brees was admitted to the injured reservation on Friday November 20th. In 2020, being on the IR means a player will have to miss at least three weeks.
ESPN has reported that “four to five weeks” have surfaced in discussions about Brees’ absence. Ed Werder reported Saturday that doctors found a total of 11 fractures in Brees’ ribs in addition to a lung puncture.
The next four games in New Orleans will face teams with records under 500 (Falcons, Broncos, Falcons, Eagles) before a showdown with defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in week 15.