The Saints Taysom Hill Conundrum
By Steve Moore
The story of this week has unquestionably been quarterback injuries. From Ben Roethlisberger to Cam Newton, we are seeing backups have to step-up for Week 3 and beyond across the league. The same is true in New Orleans where the Saints are shaping up to having to cope without Drew Brees for basically the first time since he chose ‘the Big Easy’ over the easy life in South Beach.
As a result, Sean Payton has a problem. However, it is one beyond the simple fact that he is without his future hall of fame quarterback for, quite possibly, the majority of 2019. Yet, despite all the discussions about whether it’ll be Teddy Bridgewater or Taysom Hill who starts the game against the Seahawks, that isn’t his biggest problem either.
Part of this reason is because, on pure quarterback play, Teddy Bridgewater has shown nothing since before his Vikings leg injuries that suggests he is capable of being an NFL calibre starting quarterback. Taysom Hill is the more dynamic player in every facet of his game.
However, THAT is what Sean Payton’s biggest problem is; Hill
might just be too dynamic everywhere else to be his starter behind centre, even if Payton’s comments about Hill being ‘the next Steve Young’ are more than paper talk.
A QB or a gadget player?
In an NFL which is become more and more about matchups and misdirection, Hill has become Sean Payton’s matchup creator. As time has gone on, Hill has become more and more important to both the offense and special teams. If there is the potential for creating a matchup problem somewhere, Hill is the guy Payton calls on and no stat proves that more than
this one from Next Gen Stats:
Number of offensive plays with 2 QBs on the field since 2018:
New Orleans Saints: 209
The rest of the NFL combined: 96
That is what Payton is doing when he has a man who has
already probably had his gold Canton jacket sized up. On paper, the idea of what he can do with him when it is Hill and Bridgewater must surely have Payton thinking about the possibility of Quarterback by committee.
Except surely he knows he can’t do that. This is the crux of
the issue. When he was doing that, Hill was the QB3, the chances of him needing to be the permanent presence behind centre are virtually non-existent.
Sean Payton is stuck in a weird Catch-22. He can’t start Taysom Hill because he will be losing both a special teams player and a matchup nightmare for opposition defenses as well as a huge part of their red zone offense. Yet, if he starts Bridgewater, he still can’t risk playing Hill on special teams or on offense. He simply cannot risk Hill going down injured playing tight-end and then seeing Bridgewater go down too.
Well, he can, but only if he is comfortable with having to
play a fourth quarter with Alvin Kamara or Zach Line as an emergency QB.
Some would say the chances of that are minimal but can you
really risk playing with the fates like that and putting your backup quarterback in situations more dangerous than necessary. It’s hardly like Bridgewater has proven to be the most robust quarterback in the league either.
The New Orleans can start Taysom Hill on Sunday. Let’s be
honest, it’s now or never for Hill as a pure quarterback, he’s 29 not 23. Or they can play Teddy Bridgewater. What they cannot do is play both and as a result, Sean Payton will be losing a huge part of his offense either way.
And THAT is the Taysom Hill problem.
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