When it emerged that it would be Taysom Hill and not Jameis Winston, the questions came. From those who know Sean Payton well to those around the NFL: Wait, what?
Why would the backup not be the backup?
After conversations with several people involved in the situation, an explanation became clear as to why Hill, all-in-all weapon, is expected to start at QB vs. Falcons.
“Sean just wants to know,” said a source with a deep knowledge of Payton̵
That is it. Of all the factors, it is the most important. Nevermind that Hill is actually considered as a backup on the depth map.
The Saints have featured Drew Brees as their starter since 2006. They gave Hill a $ 21 million two-year contract this offseason with the idea that he is the future, but no one knows for sure. And they do not do that until the lights are turned on.
So Payton, who identified Hill’s talents immediately from movies from his time with the Green Bay Packers, wants to know if Hill is his starter for 10 years or not. The process begins today.
As for Brees, he was placed on an injured reserve on Friday and is out for at least three weeks. By dealing with several broken ribs and a puncture in his lung, Brees is expected to return in 3-4 weeks. The Chiefs game in Week 15 is a realistic return date, though Brees hopes it is a week earlier against the Eagles, sources say.
Until he’s back, it’s going to be Hill unless it’s going particularly badly this week. If that happens, Payton could turn to Winston again.
Hill put first- and second-team representatives into practice this week, with the Saints making sure he got the full preparation for the biggest start of his life. While the exercise went well and Hill seemed prepared, he battled the nerves early in the week. At one point, it seemed like the sheer size of the situation could overwhelm him.
But he settled down and had a solid week. Expect Hill to find Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas early on short passes to get him in a rhythm and find success.
It’s the biggest day in Hill’s career that the Saints claimed in 2017 after he was released by the Packers. He was quickly identified as a player the team might want to claim. Payton in particular liked him and believed there was potential.
Three years later, Hill has his chance. How it goes can have a big impact on the next decade in New Orleans.
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