Since the retirement of future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints have been full of intrigue. Drama continues to surround wide receiver Michael Thomas, and determining who will be the heir to the quarterback throne has seen no resolution as we enter the last week of August.
Enter the second week of the NFL Preseason, and everything is on the line for Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill.
Head Coach Sean Payton has made it clear that a decision is coming soon
There has never been a definitive timeline for when a starting quarterback for the Saints will be announced. Not until today.
While Payton longs for the days of his franchise pillar Brees, he has a decision to make with the future direction of the franchise. That decision will be coming sooner than later, with Payton reportedly wanting to make a decision on the starting quarterback job prior to the preseason finale against the Arizona Cardinals, according to Peter King of NBC Sports.
The second preseason game for the Saints, which will see Winston getting the start with the first-string offense, is truly a final audition. What he does in this game will be paramount.
Jamies Winston hasn’t been a starter since 2019
The Winston era in Tampa Bay was a roller coaster of emotions, culminating in a 5,109 passing yard season with 33 touchdowns… and 30 interceptions. It was the most interceptions thrown in a single season since 1988.
When Tampa Bay felt they had a chance to sign Tom Brady, they did so, releasing Winston and allowing him to explore free agency. He joined New Orleans to play backup to Brees, and saw limited game action. Clearly he showed enough to stick around, however.
Winston signed a new one-year $5.5 million contract for the 2021 season, giving him the opportunity to prove his worth.
Sean Payton loves him some Taysom Hill
While Winston is clearly the more conventional decision to go with at quarterback, the mastermind of Payton can’t quit on Hill.
Hill saw four starts last season when Brees was sidelined with injuries, tallying a 3-1 record, 928 passing yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions. That said, he posted an additional eight rushing touchdowns on the year.
Payton loves Hill so much that, with an opportunity for running back Alvin Kamara to break the all-time record for most rushing touchdowns in a single game, he put Payton on the field in a goal line situation to poach a score. Kamara already had five scores on the day. Hill took what would have been his sixth.
Kamara finished with six touchdowns in the Christmas performance, but had he punched it in seven times, he would stand alone with the single-game rushing touchdown record.
Payton just can’t help himself.
With the newly-shortened preseason, Payton will use the second preseason game as the closing arguments for each quarterback in their pitch to be the new starting signal caller. If Winston shows command of the offense and doesn’t turn the ball over against the starting defense, it will go a long way towards securing his job, and his future in the league.