The New Orleans Saints are expected to start Taysom Hill over Jameis Winston at quarterback on Sunday for their Week 11 intra-divisional matchup with the rival Atlanta Falcons, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Hill has taken every single rep with the starters during practice this week, the source added. Unlike Hill, Winston does not have sub-packages built around him, so you shouldn’t expect to see the sixth-year veteran in Sunday’s game unless Hill gets hurt, another source told ESPN’s Diana Russini.
The decision to slot Hill in as the starter is a bit of a puzzler after the Saints plugged Winston, not Hill, in as the quarterback in the second half last week—during which he went 6-of-10 for 63 yards through the air—after starter Drew Brees exited the game with fractured ribs and a collapsed lung.
The injuries are expected to keep Brees off the field for several weeks, though that hasn’t had any affect on their -265 odds (888sport) to win the NFC South for some reason. A look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (who are just a half-game back of the Saints) and the value they offer on +175 odds right now could prove profitable.
Saints head coach Sean Payton and the rest of the front office have not been shy about voicing their opinion that Hill has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL week-in and week-out, a sentiment that is not generally shared across the league. Nonetheless, New Orleans put their money where their mouth was in the offseason, offering the 30-year-old a two-year, $21 million contract extension that made him the second-highest paid backup quarterback in football.
After two years as a Mormon missionary and five more at BYU, Hill broke into the NFL at the ripe old age of 27. While at Brigham Young, Hill showed signs of his future as the swiss army knife of the NFL: he tossed the rock for 6,929 yards and 43 touchdowns and ran it for 2,815 yards and 32 touchdowns. He also piled up all of that yardage despite suffering four different season-ending injuries: knee in 2012, broken leg in 2014, foot in 2015, and elbow in 2016.
That toughness has been evident during his NFL career as a jack of all trades and a master of none. He was a coverage ace for a period with the Saints after arriving in 2017, and he’s blocked a couple of punts in his day as well. In four NFL seasons, Hill has taken snaps with every special team, and on offense as a QB, RB, WR, TE, and FB. Basically unless it’s defense or offensive line, Hill has had a go at the position.
The 6’2”, 221-pounder’s career stats are not gaudy, but they are quite varied: he’s gone 10-of-18 passing for 205 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception, while also rushing 98 times for 538 yards and four touchdowns, and catching 28 passes for 312 yards and seven touchdowns.
Payton has refused to make any definitive statements about his quarterback decision for this week, though he is scheduled to speak to the media on Friday after practice.
After putting up 5,109 yards to go with 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions with the Bucs last season, Winston was signed by the Saints to a $1.1 million deal in the offseason that included playing time incentives which some cynics believe may be the real reason behind the Saints’ decision to start Hill over him, though I seriously doubt that.
Hill has not thrown a touchdown pass since his senior year at BYU, but he’ll get every opportunity to toss the first one of his NFL career on Sunday against the Falcons. This season the Pocatello, Idaho native has contributed 86 yards through the air on 4-of-5 passing, 186 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries, and 74 yards and another score on six catches.