In what some NFL observers consider to be a stunning and somewhat unexpected move, NFL.com Insider Ian Rappoport this morning reported that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton plans to start #3 back-up QB (and versatile offensive skill player) Taysom Hill at quarterback at home this Sunday against division arch-rivals the Atlanta Falcons, over presumptive #2 back-up Jameis Winston.
And if the report is indeed true, it could give Who Dat fans an early glimpse at what lies ahead for the Black and Gold at the starting QB position heading into next season and beyond, and at least as to just where and how these two players will figure into that future.
Intrigue in New Orleans: The #Saints have given QB Taysom Hill starter reps in practice this week, source said. So while Jameis Winston took over for injured Drew Brees last week, signs are pointing towards Hill getting his first NFL start at QB if all checks out after practice.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 20, 2020
As most Saints are aware, starting #1 QB Drew Brees is expected to miss a minimum of at least 3 games after he sustained numerous injuries to his rib cage area that included a collapsed lung, in the team’s 27-13 victory last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
In the days since Brees’ injury as the team has been preparing to face the hated Falcons on Sunday, Payton seemingly has been very coy and perhaps even a bit secretive about who would start against Atlanta, though the presumption was that it was Winston who would get the start; particularly since Winston took over for Brees in the 2nd half of last week’s game.
I see a lot of people trying to talk themselves into believing that the Taysom thing is a smokescreen because they don’t think he can play.
Here’s an alternate theory: The Saints actually like the backup quarterback they paid $21 million and want to see what he can do.
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) November 20, 2020
If in fact Hill does start, it would finally be the chance for all of the Saints fans who believe that Hill is nothing more than a “gadget player”, to see if he can be successful as a starting-caliber NFL quarterback. Additionally, it would also be the first time that Hill has ever started an NFL game. His last start was in college at BYU (Brigham Young University).
Hill has only attempted 18 passes so far in his NFL career, completing 10 of them for 205 yards with zero TD’s and one interception. This season so far, Hill has completed 4 of his 5 passing attempts for 86 yards.
Hill has drawn much praise from Payton in recent months, and the Saints head coach even went so far as to compare Hill to another famous QB from BYU, retired NFL Hall of Fame living legend Steve Young, who won 3 Super Bowls (one as a starting QB) for the San Francisco 49ers.
Many NFL experts and analysts scoffed at Payton’s observation, not because of Hill’s obvious athletic talent that favorably compares to Young in his heyday back during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, but rather because of Hill’s relative inexperience at playing QB in the NFL (a position that Young excelled at). Hill has also been criticized by some analysts for his lack of passing accuracy.
That said: apparently this Sunday, many folks — including the entire Who Dat Nation — will finally get their first real chance to see if Coach Payton was actually right about Taysom all along….
Barry Hirstius is a semi-retired journalist, who has worked previously as a sports editor and columnist. Barry is a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the Saints while attending their games as a young boy during the early 1970’s, uptown at the old Tulane Stadium. He is also the proud Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity. Follow him on Twitter: @BarryHirstius