Report: Taysom Hill to Start at QB for Saints vs. Falcons over Jameis Winston

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2020

New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill (7) warms up before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

In a surprising move, Taysom Hill will reportedly make his first career NFL start at quarterback Sunday for the New Orleans Saints at home against the Atlanta Falcons over Jameis Winston.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Hill took all the starter reps at practice this week, meaning he should be under center.

Veteran starter Drew Brees is out this week after suffering multiple fractured ribs over the past two weeks and a collapsed lung last week against the San Francisco 49ers. Brees could miss multiple games, meaning Hill may be in line for more than one start.

It was widely expected that Winston, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers starter, would get the start Sunday since he replaced Brees in last week's win over the Niners.

Winston was solid and kept the offense moving in the right direction by completing six of his 10 passes for 63 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

The 2015 No. 1 overall draft pick led the NFL last season with 5,109 passing yards and also threw 33 touchdown passes, but he was intercepted a league-high 30 times. That led to the Bucs' decision to part ways with him and sign future Hall of Famer Tom Brady.

The 26-year-old has a massive experience edge over Hill with 70 career NFL starts, but Hill's dual-threat ability could be much tougher for the Falcons to account for.

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Hill was a starting quarterback at BYU in college, but since joining the Saints in 2017, he was been a jack of all trades lining up at every offensive skill position.

Last season was Hill's most productive campaign, as he rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown while also catching 19 passes for 234 yards and six scores. In nine games this season, Hill has 186 yards and one touchdown on the ground, six receptions for 74 yards and one touchdown, and 86 passing yards.

While Hill has lined up at quarterback many times during his NFL career, he usually runs out of those sets. In fact, he has only attempted 18 passes during the regular season, completing 10 for 205 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

Since there remains some uncertainty about Hill's ability to be a great passer at the NFL level, one can only assume that New Orleans' offense will be run-heavy with plenty of short, safe passes against Atlanta.

New Orleans has arguably the best dual-threat running back in the league in Alvin Kamara. He has already racked up 1,134 total yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games this season, and he has been a top-flight pass-catcher with 67 grabs for 648 yards and four scores.

If Hill, Kamara and the New Orleans offensive line can effectively execute the read-option and screen games, then head coach Sean Payton should be able to accentuate Hill's strengths and hide any potential weaknesses.

Even though the Saints lead the NFC South at 7-2 and own the tiebreaker over the second-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday's game is a big one since a loss coupled with a Bucs win would put Tampa atop the division by a half-game.