Plenty of reasons could be identified for the Saints’ decision to give quarterback Taysom Hill the start on Sunday, in the absence of Drew Brees. Reportedly, one of the reasons is good, old-fashioned curiosity.
Via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, New Orleans coach Sean Payton has a desire to learn what Hill can do not as a jack-of-all-trades but as the full-time quarterback.
“Sean just wants to know,” said an unnamed source “with a deep knowledge of Payton’s thinking” told Rapoport.
We all want to know. The Saints presumably have an inkling, given the $16 million in guaranteed money given to Hill on a two-year deal, and in light of the fact that Hill has been listed all year long as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart.
It will take more than Hill’s skills to thrive in the moment. He’ll need to be able to mentally meet the challenge of running the offense. Rapoport notes that Hill “battle[d] nerves early on in the week,” and that, “[a]t one point, it seemed like the enormity of the situation might overwhelm him.”
The weeklong mystery regarding which quarterback will play and how much could add to Hill’s anxiety. Perhaps that’s part of Payton’s genius. By refusing to say who’ll play, an otherwise routine Week 11 game against the Falcons becomes a much bigger deal. Sort of like a playoff game.
And if Hill is going to be the New Orleans quarterback, he’ll eventually need to perform in a playoff game.