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If Not Now, When Will Taysom Hill Get Chance To Start At Quarterback?

Taysom Hill #7 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates after catching a touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on January 05, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Taysom Hill has been a football darling the past year. He broke out with a season where he played everywhere on the field and scored seven touchdowns that earned a two-year contract worth $21 million and $16 million guaranteed with the New Orleans Saints.

With that contract, it would be logical that Hill would be the primary backup to Drew Brees and the future starting quarterback of the Saints. However, the club added Jameis Winston to a bare-bones $1.1 million one year contract, plus incentives, for 2020.

So, when Brees went down with multiple broken ribs and a collapsed lung, most thought it would be Hill’s time to shine.

Well… not so fast.

It was Winston who took over the majority of the quarterback duties this past weekend in the Saints win over the San Francisco 49ers. Winston took over in the second half and went 6 of 10 for 63 yards. Hill was used in his normal status as a gadget type of player.

KSL Sports’ Scott Mitchell played quarterback in the NFL for 12 years and has a lot of interest in what Hill can do when he gets the chance to be the main guy under center.

“I’m quite shocked and actually disappointed that Jameis went into the game only because I just want to see what Taysom Hill can do can he actually play in the NFL?” Mitchell asked. “I want to see him get a legitimate shot.”

Another reason Hill might not have been given the reins was due to how the Saints were preparing him for this game which is using him in a variety of formations that do not include Hill being under center.

“They only have so many plays in practice. So, Taysom is in a special group, and they have their Taysom Hill package. If you put him in at quarterback, you kind of take that out of the equation,” Mitchell said. “What they probably do in practice is let’s just say they have 20 plays in an offensive period. Drew Brees is going to get 18 of those, and Jameis Winston is probably going to get two. The only reps Taysom Hill might be getting at this point are as a triple threat in the special Taysom Hill offense that they run. So, he probably hasn’t been getting a lot of reps at quarterback.”

That is a logical reason for head coach Sean Payton to thrust Hill in the quarterback in the middle of the game. However, all signs indicate that it will be Winston getting the start this week for the Saints when they take on the Atlanta Falcons.

Who Will Start This Week?

Payton wouldn’t say who the starting quarterback will be this week during his media availability. He said he wants to play the week out before making that decision.

However, Saints radio analyst Deuce McAllister was on CBS Sports Radio and strongly believes Winston will be the starting quarterback because the Saints are focused on the present.

“I think this team, they haven’t turned their attention to 2021,” McAllister said on the DA Show. “You’re going to have to change the offense whether it’s Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston. Not everything that you do, but both of those guys have different strengths or they do different things than what Drew does himself.”

Winning now makes sense but the Saints just this past offseason gave Hill one of the largest contracts to a backup quarterback and it seems peculiar that it would be Winston over Hill.

However, the longer-term plan according to NFL Network’s Mike Silver was to have Hill and Winston battle for the starting job next year with the assumption that 2020 would be Brees’ final year.

“The longer-term plan was to have Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill would have a legit competition in 2021 to see who the quarterback of the future was. Both guys knew that at the time,” Silver said. “That is now accelerated and Sean Payton has seen half a season of Winston in practice and has been teaching him to do it the Saints way. The fact that he went to Jameis. this past Sunday conveniences me that is the way they will go.”

What Will It Take For Hill To Be QB1?

If the eight-figure contract is not enough for a team to believe in Hill at starting quarterback, then who knows what it will take for Payton to give Hill the keys to the Saints’ offense.

Perhaps it was a gameplan type of situation as to why the Saints went with Winston over Hill to take over for Brees this past week.

Just maybe the Saints will use Hill more this week in practice as an actual quarterback and get him reps to be ready this week, and that will allow for Payton and the offensive staff to see Hill commanding the Saints first offensive unit during practice.

This has to be somewhat frustrating for Hill who has been a member of the Saints since 2017 and his head coach has said that he will “be an outstanding NFL quarterback.

It is now time for Payton to make those words actually mean something and give Hill a chance to prove himself right in saying Hill is a great NFL quarterback and back up awarding him a $21 million contract for a signal-caller who has yet to throw a touchdown pass.

“I just want to see Taysom Hill and what he can do,” Mitchell said.

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