The bad news for Sean Payton is that his bet to go all-in on Taysom Hill as a full-time quarterback has failed to bear much fruit, leaving the once-promising New Orleans Saints on the wrong side of the NFC's playoff picture. Playing with a significantly injured finger on his throwing hand, the 31-year-old Swiss Army knife inflicted more pain on his team than the Dallas Cowboys last night, throwing four interceptions in a spirit-dashing loss to an undermanned opponent. Hill completed fewer than half his 41 passes and posted a cringeworthy 44.2 passer rating in his extended time of the position. There's bad and then there's begging for Trevor Siemian bad.
This was the latter.
Pitchforks and torches will be out in full force across the reactionary landscape this morning but those haters simply aren't taking the long view. They aren't being fair. Hill clearly needs more seasoning. We're thinking, at this pace, he should be a viable NFL quarterback no later than his age 38 season. That's a seven-year ramp for him to learn what it takes and get some of those youthful indiscretions out of his system.
People need to remember that Hill was but a wide-eyed 28-year-old when he threw his first professional pass. Can you even imagine how hard it is to acclimate to the real world while acclimating to the NFL? Whatever happened to patience? Look long and hard for a quarterback who threw 13 times before turning 30. It's not easy to find. Usually players need to sit and wait their turn before being thrust into action like that.
Hill showed he could be the next big thing last year by completing 72 percent of his throws while relying on his legs. A 3-1 record suggested he could Tim Tebow his way into the playoffs and hope for a random championship run. That's why Payton and the front office felt confident moving on from Jameis Winston in the wake of Drew Brees' retirement. That's why the triple threat was offered a confusing yet ultimately rich new four-year contract. (Again.) When that's over, Hill will only be 35 and, hopefully a few short seasons from his prime.
Laugh if you must. Evidence that NFL signal-callers are playing longer and retaining productivity is obvious. Tom Brady is 44 and could win the MVP. Aaron Rodgers is 37 and has the energy of someone who took a bunch of pills hawked by Joe Rogan. Even the aforementioned Brees sprouted a nice new head of hair, proving age is but a number.
There's something wrong with an instant-gratification society that demands a quarterback learn how to play the position before they are personally ready. Not everyone is on the same timeline. Matthew Stafford may have been comfortable at 21 and Kyler Murray at 22. Hill may not get there until he's legally eligible to become president. This is not a one-size-fits-all world.
To this point, Payton seems willing to see this thing out, no matter how long it takes. And when Hill does look adequate for a full month in 2025, well, the joke will be on everyone else.