It Sounds Like the Taysom Hill Experiment Includes a Short Leash

Brian Giuffra
Taysom Hill quarterback.
Taysom Hill quarterback. / Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
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Taysom Hill is finally getting his chance to shut naysayers like me up and prove he can play quarterback in the NFL. Regardless of the fact that the Saints have never treated him like a legit starting quarterback and he's struggled in his limited appearances under center, well really in the shotgun because he hasn't played much under actual center, Hill is starting for the Saints today because, according to Ian Rapoport, coach Sean Payton "just wants to know," if Hill can play quarterback in the NFL or not.

While that sentence alone isn't a ringing endorsement of Hill's ability -- I mean, he's played for the Saints for four years and if Payton doesn't know whether he's capable of being a starting quarterback at this point based on what he's seen in practice it's disconcerting -- neither is this part from Rapoport's story referring to this being Hill's job until Drew Bress returns from injury.

"Until he's back, it'll be Hill, unless it goes particularly poorly this week. If that happens, Payton could turn to Winston again."

Adding concern to this, according to Adam Schefter starting Hill was a tough choice for Payton and multiple players and members of the organization thought Jameis Winston should start. Schefter also says Winston could be the Saints' starting quarterback after this season and Hill starting today is based on wanting to evaluate whether he is good enough to remain the starting quarterback.

Based on all of this, it appears Hill is getting a one-week audition to prove he can play quarterback in the NFL. If he can't do that against a sub-par Falcons secondary (31st in passing yards allowed per game) today at home, he'll go back to being a gimmick in the Saints' creative offense.

You could, of course, turn around and say the same thing may have been true if Winston was starting. But then again, Winston has proven he can, at a minimum, put up big passing performances in the NFL. Hill has not.

So far in his career, Hill, who is 30 years old, has thrown a total of 18 passes with 10 completions and zero touchdowns against one interception. Today against the Falcons, he should eclipse all of those numbers, though he'll hope to avoid the interceptions. Meanwhile, Winston threw for over 5,000 yards and 30 TDs last year. He also threw 30 interceptions, but who's counting? (Everyone.)

It is telling that, based on Rap's report, Payton is just as interested as the rest of America to learn if Hill can play quarterback in the NFL. He's played primarily on special teams and as a TE/FB/RB/WR on offense so far in his pro career, to mixed results. He was a quarterback at BYU and threw for 2,323 yards and 12 TDs against 11 INTs his senior year. Not great stats, especially at a school known for its throwing offense, and that was back in 2016.

Regardless of how long it's been since he played quarterback full-time, he's getting a chance to show what he's capable of now. If he steps up and plays well this week, he'll get another chance to prove himself the week after (and maybe the week after that because it sounds like Brees' broken ribs/collapsed lung could keep him out for a while). If he fails in his first attempt, well, he might not get a second.

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