- Taysom Hill will start for New Orleans over Jameis Winston vs. Falcons
- Line shifted from Saints -4.5 to Saints -3.5
- Hill has never started an NFL game at QB
Earlier this week, the New Orleans Saints learned that they would be without starting quarterback Drew Brees for quite a while. The 41-year-old will be sidelined indefinitely after suffering a pair of fractured ribs as well as a collapsed lung during last Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Jameis Winston came in to replace Brees at halftime last week against the Niners, but head coach Sean Payton has a different plan heading into Week 11. The Saints announced Friday that Taysom Hill will serve as the Saints’ QB1 on Sunday at home against the Atlanta Falcons. Winston will be Hill’s backup with Brees sidelined.
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
ESPN’s Adam Schefter says that Hill has taken every rep with the first team starters in practice this week. ESPN also reported that Winston is not featured at all in the Saints’ offensive gameplan against Atlanta, and that he will only play if Hill is forced to leave the game due to injury.
Hill’s Unique Role
This will be the first NFL start at quarterback for Hill, who played collegiately at BYU. Winston is the far more experienced starter at this level, but the Saints have decided to see what Hill can do.
The Saints have long believed that Hill has enough talent to be a starter at the NFL level. He signed a two-year extension worth $21 million to stay with the Saints this past offseason, which was a vote of confidence from the team in his ability.
Hill was a dual-threat quarterback at BYU from 2012 to 2016, but he has largely served as a utility weapon during his time in the NFL. So far this season, Hill has completed four of five passes for 86 yards. He has also rushed the ball 34 times for 186 yards and a touchdown, while catching another six passes for 74 yards and a score.
The 30-year-old has completed 11 of 20 pass attempts as a pro in his career. He was originally signed by the Green Bay Packers as a free agent after going undrafted in 2017 before being claimed off waivers by the Saints. He has never thrown a touchdown pass at the NFL level in limited duty. The Saints grabbed Hill as a free agent because Payton was reportedly impressed by Hill’s performance during a preseason game.
Brees’ Return Date Still Uncertain
Hill took seven snaps at QB after Brees left the game on Sunday against the Niners. He ran on five of those plays for 31 yards before losing a fumble on his last attempt. He also took one sack.
Winston, who signed a one-year deal after being replaced by Tom Brady in Tampa Bay this past offseason, completed six of his 10 throws for 63 yards after coming on in relief of Brees last week.
Payton didn’t go into any detail regarding his quarterback plans until announcing the news on Friday. How Hill fares in his first start on Sunday will likely go a long way toward determining whether Hill will remain the QB1 during the entirety of Brees’ time on the sidelines. No timetable has been set for Brees’ return as of now.
It’s also important for the Saints to see what Hill can do with Brees’ future looking murky. The future Hall of Famer toyed with the idea of retirement last offseason before committing to return to the Saints for at least another year. Winston is a proven solid starter at the NFL level, while Hill is obviously an unknown commodity as an NFL quarterback.
Winston was widely expected to start this game, but Hill’s ascension to the top of the depth chart has affected the betting odds ahead of Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints are now listed as 3.5-point favorites after opening as 4.5-point favorites.
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