The Future of the Saints: Jameis or Taysom?
With the pending retirement of Drew Brees right around the corner, it’s time for the Who Dat nation to move forward. Although the possibility of a blockbuster Russell Wilson trade has been circulating around the media, (which would be phenomenal for the Saints organization), we need to evaluate the two QB’s that our own coach Sean Payton has had his eye on up to now. Payton has gone on record recently saying that he believes that the QB of the future has been in the building all season. With Brees having one foot out of the door and free agency quickly approaching this month, it’s time for decisions to be made.
Taysom Hill’s NFL journey took a detour out of Green Bay & landed him in New Orleans when the Saints claimed him off of waivers after the Packers parted ways with him. Since then, he’s been the “human swiss army knife” of the Saints with Sean Payton utilizing this talented young man in every way possible. Special teams, TE, WR, and even at QB, it seems that there isn’t anything Hill can’t do. One of Hill’s most notable games was against the Minnesota Vikings in the wild card round of the 2019 playoffs. It seemed that the Vikings had no answer for Hill’s toughness. The standout play in this game being Hill’s 50 yard deep ball down the middle caught by punt returner Deonte Harris as shown in the video below.
It’s also worth noting that when Drew Brees went down with a rib injury, Hill was named the starter and went 3-1 in Brees’ absence. With a more than capable Jameis Winston on the sidelines, Sean Payton chose Taysom. Now although this may have been a strategic move by Payton, the fact remains the same: Taysom got the job done and kept the Saints from crumbling in his tenure as the full time starter.
In his debut as the starting QB for New Orleans, Hill led his team to a convincing 24-9 victory against the vaunted Atlanta Falcons. Hill completed 18/23 of his passes while throwing the ball through the air to the tune of a 78.3 completion percentage. If that wasn’t enough, he rushed for 49 yards and added two rushing TD’s to his resume. On that day, Taysom Hill made a statement to his doubters.
For all of his positives, Taysom isn’t without his flaws. There has been a bit of a fumbling issue as well as an inability to get the ball out of his hands quick enough at times. In his 3rd start, a rematch against the Falcons, he fumbled the ball twice on two separate possessions that could’ve been costly in a close game. He was also sacked 14 times this season. If Taysom is going to be an effective QB in the NFL, he’s going to need to work on going through his reads quicker than he currently does. Waiting for more than 8 seconds in the pocket for a receiver to open up can feel like a lifetime and that’s what Hill has done on a numerous occasions, allowing defenders to take him down. An athlete with Hill’s capability needs to do a better job of going off script at times rather than taking a sack and losing yardage. If nobody is open, Hill’s legs can carry him to a 1st down or maybe even a 2nd and 2 where an Alvin Kamara can do what he does best.
Jameis Winston made headline news last spring when he signed a one year deal with the Saints for 1.1 million dollars. Winston joined the fray in hopes of reviving his career by learning and studying the ways of Drew Brees and Sean Payton. The Heisman trophy winning first round pick started his career in Tampa Bay as a Buccaneer. Although Jameis is known primarily for his turnover prone nature, you can’t deny his arm strength and ability to stretch the field while leaving defenses confused. With an aging Drew Brees on his way out of the door, it’s not hard to figure out why the Saints went after Winston.
Winston notably threw for over 5,000 yards during the 2019 season along with 33 touchdowns to go along with it. So like I said before, the arm strength and talent is there. However, with those 33 touchdowns comes another 30 interceptions. Jameis has had issues trying to force the ball into areas where the receiver is simply not open, which is a big reason he left the 2019 season with as many turnovers as he did. With the turnover issue being Winston’s biggest and most recognizable flaw, I believe that spending a year under the mentorship of Drew Brees has shaped Winston’s state of mind and made him a better player.
We got a quick glimpse of what the future may hold for the New Orleans Saints should they choose Jameis as their starter during the divisional round of the 2020 playoffs against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Brees on the sideline, a trick play drawn up by Sean Payton had Winston throwing a 56 yard touchdown pass with effortless ease to WR Tre’Quan Smith. For Winston, this had to have felt good as this was against the team that gave up on him. Although we know how the game would eventually turn out, I’m sure Jameis will carry that moment with him for some time. Check out the video below to see the play.
Shortly after the season ended, Winston did an interview with retired NFL player Michael Vick. During this interview, he explained all that he’s learned from being under Drew Brees’ leadership. Winston explained how in the past, he would try and win the game in one play. After learning from Brees, he now understands that rather than always looking downfield for the big play, he should take a quick completion to gain yardage. Consistency will win the game, consistently making the best play possible will outlast anything else. “It’s not about the special play, it’s about the right play” Winston says to Vick when asked what his biggest takeaway from this season was. After hearing the maturity in Winston’s voice, one wouldn’t be wrong in believing that he is finally ready to show the world why he was a first round pick in the first place. Check out a clip of the interview between Michael Vick & Jameis Winston below.
If I was a betting man, I’d put my money on Jameis Winston being the starter for the Saints moving forward. Taysom Hill has expressed that his long term goal is to be a starting QB somewhere in the NFL, so this decision could lead to the eventual ending of the Sean Payton/Taysom Hill love story. His contract runs through the end of the 2021 season, so who knows what the future holds on that front. With Winston’s QB experience/arm strength, the knowledge he gained from Drew Brees, and Sean Payton’s coaching expertise, Jameis has the chance to completely revitalize his career. What a storyline that would be for him as well, taking over after the exit of Drew Brees to find a career redemption in New Orleans.
My pick: Jameis Winston