While it felt like an inevitability, Brees’ retirement has made these conversations far more real
The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. That is the crux for the case of Taysom Hill as the New Orleans Saints first starting quarterback in the post-Drew Brees era. While he’s certainly a project, Hill has some of the history to back it up.
The Saints went 3-1 under Hill as a starter when Brees went down with multiple cracked ribs. They won the first three games, including two against the Falcons, while ultimately dropping the fourth against the Eagles. In that span, Hill completed a hair under 72 percent of his passes for 834 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.
The important takeaway here is that Sean Payton can scheme around whoever is playing quarterback for the Saints. Teddy Bridgewater went 5-0 starting for the Saints in 2019 while averaging 7.85 air yards per attempt. With a Saints offense that will ostensibly be at full strength in 2021, Hill can start to settle in with the Saints as his team.
Hill also opens up the playbook for Payton. Payton used Hill effectively as a power run threat, with Hill getting double digit carries in each of his first three starts. He had four rushing touchdowns in during his starting stint, adding another dynamic to the Saints offense.
However, the biggest thing about Hill: He’s on the roster. The Saints have successfully manipulated themselves out of salary cap hell, but they lost quite a few players to do it. No one game changing, mind you, but with extensions looming for offensive line stalwarts Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead, the Saints need all the maneuverability they can muster. That means going with what you know, and not paying for an unknown entity when you know what you have in-house.
Hill’s flaws aren’t so fatal that he’ll have to be masked in the Saints offense. He has a big arm, a comfort within the Saints system, and he’s a dual-threat. His footwork will need to improve, as will his sense of when to release the ball. But those talents will only come with reps. Payton clearly sees something in Hill at quarterback. That should be reason enough for Saints fans to put a little bit of faith in him.
While there are implicit risks, a strong offensive line and receiving corps, in addition to Alvin Kamara, will help Hill along. He just needs to develop confidence of his own.