When Drew Brees came out of the Week 10 game of New Orleans with an injury to his ribs, it was Jameis Winston who had the top quarterback. Taysom Hill has not taken a step back.
But after a week of preparation, it was Hill who was selected as the starter for Week 11 against the Falcons (3-6). Instead of picking the quarterback who pitched 33 touchdowns (and 30 interceptions) in 2019, Saints (7-2) coach Sean Payton chose the often-popular Hill gadget and his 18 regular-season career passes. While the choice was not made for a single reason, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on a major Sunday.
“Sean just wants to know” Rapoport wrote which a source with knowledge of Payton’s thinking said.
Why is Taysom Hill starting QB for Saints?
The Saints are moving things forward by signing Hill to a two-year, $ 21 million contract before the 2020 season. They knew he was useful as a special-teams / tight-end / wildcat-quarterback combination, at least. But it was a lot of money to pay a player.
What the Rapoport source alludes to is: Payton wants to know if Hill can be New Orleans ’starting quarterback in the future. Brees is 41 years old and is now facing a several-week absence due to injury for a second consecutive season. At some point, Payton’s reign in New Orleans will coincide with a passing one other than Brees. Can Hill be that type?
Sunday’s game will begin only to determine Hill’s future prospects. The Falcons are one of the league’s worst defenders to pass, and Payton has likely changed his game plans to make more use of Hill’s run. But the Ravens did work with Lamar Jackson. The Cardinals did it with Kyler Murray, and the Bills did it with a big-body quarterback like Hill in Josh Allen. It’s not clear that Hill has the arm’s arm talent of any of these players, but there’s only one way to find out, and Payton has chosen that path starting in Week 11.
What are the prospects for Jameis Winston?
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Hill’s start Sunday doesn’t stop Winston from being the quarterback of New Orleans ’future. Winston has signed a one-year deal for the 2020 season, likely in hopes of restoring his value a lot in the way Teddy Bridgewater did a season ago before securing a major contract with Carolina.
Schefter writes that “Winston has impressed the Saints ‘coaches and players and remains a potential part of New Orleans’ long-term plans.” Winston completed 6-of-10 passes for 63 yards in relief against the 49ers, but it’s possible that if he starts at some point in the future, Payton will work out more downfield passes to take advantage of the top strength of the Winston’s arm as to Brees.
Whether Winston’s next consistent NFL will come in New Orleans or probably depends on Hill’s game. If the next few weeks are a holiday coming for Hill, Winston could look for a starting job elsewhere in the season, and if the reviews from the Saints are positive, the former No. 1 general could find a sweet landing.
How far is Drew Brees out?
Brees was placed in injured reserve Friday, Nov. 20. By 2020, placement in IR means a player will have to miss at least three weeks.
ESPN reported that “four to five weeks” came up in discussions about Brees ’absence. Ed Werder reported Saturday that doctors found a total of 11 fractures in Brees ’ribs in addition to a perforated lung.
The next four New Orleans games come against teams with sub-.500 records (Falcons, Broncos, Falcons, Eagles) before a Week 15 rally with the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl champion.