Here’s What Saints QB Drew Brees’ Injury Means For Taysom Hill
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah. – Is it Taysom Hill time at quarterback in New Orleans?
According to reports, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees has multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung. Saints head coach Sean Payton declined to update Drew Brees’ health status on Monday and wouldn’t say who would fill in as the starting quarterback for the injured Brees.
With Brees reportedly out for at least two to three weeks, is this the time for Taysom Hill to step in and become the Saints starting quarterback?
On Sunday, the Saints third-string quarterback Jameis Winston stepped in for the injured Brees leading the Saints to a win over the 49ers. But that was likely by design as Taysom Hill was in the game week preparing in his “F-Position” role as a QB/RB/WR/TE/FB. In contrast, Winston was taking second-string quarterback reps throughout the week.
With a new week here, there will be a debate to see who Payton rolls with at quarterback when the Saints face the Falcons this Sunday.
Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston?
If you follow the money trail, Hill would be the one that the Saints give the starting nod to replace Brees. This season, Hill signed a $21 million contract this past off-season. Winston is on a one-year deal worth $1.1 million by comparison. The current depth chart available on the Saints website has Hill as New Orleans’ No. 2 QB. That hasn’t changed since the beginning of the season, and Payton himself stated on numerous occasions that Hill would be Brees’ No. 2.
During the spring and summer, some reports suggested Hill is “the guy” to succeed Drew Brees at quarterback once the Hall of Fame talent decides to retire after this season. If the reports and speculation are true that Hill is viewed as the heir apparent in New Orleans, what better time to get an audition as the Saints starting quarterback while Brees is out with an injury.
In the past, Sean Payton has said that he feels Taysom Hill will “be an outstanding NFL quarterback.” Here is Payton’s chance to show the football world what he has seen in practices since 2017.
Going with Hill would allow the Saints to gauge whether or not he could be the heir-apparent to Brees, or if they need to get into the quarterback market this next April at the Draft.
Another reason to give Hill a chance as the starter right now is the schedule. The Saints schedule over the next month is not daunting by any stretch. A pair of games against the Falcons, the Broncos on Nov. 29, and the Eagles on Dec. 13 before facing the defending Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 20. Last year the Saints were a perfect 5-0 with Teddy Bridgewater at QB, while Brees was out.
A Saints team led by Hill would likely still be a favorite against the Falcons, Broncos, and Eagles, which wouldn’t impact New Orleans playoff status.
If Taysom is “the guy,” it’s time for him to start in a game.
Jameis Winston in relief of Brees this past Sunday was 6-10 for 63 yards and, more importantly for him, no interceptions. Last season, as a starter in Tampa Bay, Winston led the NFL in interceptions with 30 picks.
Winston has a large sample size in games for the Saints to know what he is capable of as a starting QB in the NFL. That’s one big knock on the former BYU star. Hill has yet to play an entire game at quarterback during his NFL career. The 30-year-old Swiss Army Knife has played in 23 percent of the Saints’ offensive snaps, the same rate he played last season. But that’s a far cry from quarterbacking an entire NFL game.
This year, Hill has attempted five passes and completed four of those attempts for a total of 86 yards. During his entire NFL career, Hill has attempted 18 passes.
Two weeks ago, in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccanneers, Hill showed off why he is a unique talent in the league by rushing for 54 yards, racking up 21 receiving yards, and passing for 48. Is Payton willing to give up that role midway through the season?
This week could tell us a lot about the future of Taysom Hill and his quarterback career in the NFL.
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m., KSL Newsradio). Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper and the KSL Sports app.
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