Taysom Hill: Questions are Lingering

Taysom Hill is 2-0 as the Saints' starting quarterback since Drew Brees' rib injuries.   After last week's performance in Denver, questions still linger if he is the future in New Orleans.
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Taysom Hill is 2-0 as the Saints' starting quarterback since Drew Brees' rib injuries. After last week's performance in Denver, questions still linger if he is the future in New Orleans.

(COPY) Questions Linger about Taysom Hill

Evaluating Taysom Hill as the quarterback is difficult. It has been two games, and while his debut against Atlanta was stellar, Taysom's second game left more questions than answers.  

The Saints won 31-3 against the Broncos, but the game made it difficult to figure out Taysom Hill, the quarterback.

Hill is undefeated since taking over the helm for the Saints. Drew Brees is on injured reserve and watched his protege' take command of the New Orleans offense. Taysom has become as detailed as Brees in game preparation and eerily imitates Brees' voice and cadence under center in games. The Saints' second-year offensive lineman Erik McCoy mentioned he appreciated the similarity, making it easier for him as the center.

The next few weeks will have huge playoff implications for the Saints.  My colleague John Hendrix reports Drew Brees could be ready for the Eagles in Week 14.  But, Taysom as a leader is not a question. His teammates gravitate and support him in this new role. Yet, last week's 31-3 win against the quarterback-less Denver Broncos raised more questions from critics, analysts, and even fans on whether Hill can become Drew Brees’ potential successor om New Orleans.

His performance against the Broncos lacked luster as he completed 9 of 16 passes for 78 yards and had two rushing touchdowns and an interception. Hill appeared to have difficulties with making mid-range and long passes. Some believed he lacked confidence in making those decisions on the field. Even more concerning is that he has not tossed an NFL touchdown pass. 

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The New Orleans offense is still one of the best in the NFL, even without the services of left tackle Terron Armstead (COVID-19) and left guard Andrus Peat (concussion). Contrary to the commentators, Coach Sean Payton supported Taysom Hill and thought he played well against Denver.

This Taysom Hill experiment could shape the NFC playoff race and alter the trajectory of this season, even if Brees can return in mid-December. It could also chart the course for the Saints’ future. Brees will turn 42 in January and is nearing retirement. Fellow New Orleans quarterback Jameis Winston is on an expiring contract. Hill, meanwhile, is under contract through 2021 after New Orleans gave him a $16 million extension this offseason. The next few weeks will determine whether the Saints entrust the next few years to a player 30 years old and has not thrown an NFL touchdown pass.  

NFL experts' opinion of Hill has not stopped head coach Sean Payton from believing in the player - especially since they keep winning! Payton reiterated to media Hill's performance in Denver was more reflective of his playcalling. Meaning, his decision to be conservative against Vic Fangio's defense was indicative of Sean Payton and not Taysom Hill.

I thought Taysom played well, but he played an entirely different type of game and that had a lot to do with me, relative to how we wanted to play this game, Payton said.  I was in his ear 24/7 just about being smart with the football. There are a few ways to lose a game like that, and we weren’t interested in one of those.

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Coach Payton and the Saints devised the team’s offensive game plan to fit Taysom's skillset, and it's working.    

 “I didn’t want to run him early,” Payton told NBC Sports. “You know what people think of him—they think he’s a runner. I think he’s a quarterback. And I wanted him to play quarterback early.”

The evaluation of Taysom Hill as the Saints quarterback and the questions about him will continue.  In the meantime, Sean Payton, Hill, and the Saints' focus is winning.

The Saints (9-2) will meet the Atlanta Falcons for the second time in two weeks on Sunday, December 6th at 12:00 PM CST.