The big storyline emanating from the New Orleans Saints training camp is the battle at quarterback between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston. After the future Hall of Famer Drew Brees retired, the spotlight is burning bright on the two would-be replacements. After yesterday’s preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens, the answer still isn’t clear. It’s time to examine where and how this quarterback battle will get decided.
Splitting the Difference
It is no ordinary squabble for a starting job; typically, players competing for a job are very similar skill-wise. Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston are entirely different. Winston is a classic big-armed pocket passer that can push the ball downfield. Hill is accurate in the intermediate and short areas, while he is a mobile threat.
Both have considerable flaws; Winston is highly erratic, makes bad decisions, and throws interceptions. Hill is severely inexperienced, lacks pocket presence, and isn’t as powerful throwing downfield. Therefore the choice is complicated for Sean Payton. The offense may look very different depending on which option Sean Payton chooses.
With Michael Thomas‘ surgery-induced absence, there is a lack of experienced weapons in the wideout room that may limit the aggression of the offense. Consequently, the lack of options could force Payton to opt for the game-management and caution of Hill. Certainly, Winston could be a liability if he feels compelled to force the issue. With Thomas out, New Orleans should try and take the game out of the quarterback’s hands, rely on Alvin Kamara and a ferocious defense.
What Happened in the Preseason Opener?
Hill and Winston both played their part in Saturday’s preseason game against Baltimore. Hill initially led the team on offense in the early phases; the BYU product went 8/12 for 81 yards and one interception. Winston threw 7/12 for 96 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
The duo displayed their relative strengths and weaknesses in brief cameos against the Ravens. As much as preseason football is immaterial, Sean Payton needs to figure out who stars under center in September. That is why the preseason period is so essential for both players.
Coach Payton said on Friday that he hoped that the preseason would provide more clarity on his conundrum; instead, after a sloppy showing, in which New Orleans had six turnovers, Payton is not drawing any conclusions. “I’m not making comparisons with the quarterbacks right now,” Payton said via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. “It doesn’t matter who [played better], really, with six turnovers, right?”
Winston underthrew his ball, which got tipped into a Ravens player’s hand; meanwhile, Hill and Ty Montgomery were reading off two different pages as Hill made a wrong decision to pull the trigger anyway. The quarterback decision is still unclear for Sean Payton, neither player is giving in, and both will be desperate to replace Drew Brees.
The Saints play the Jacksonville Jaguars on the 24th of August, which provides the team with plenty of preparation time back in camp. As they’ve done throughout the training camp, Hill and Winston will rotate, working alongside the first-and second-team offenses. The answer to the question, Taysom Hill v Jameis Winston is unclear. In reality, it might be unclear for a while.