New Orleans Saints: What To Make of Taysom Hill’s First NFL Start

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

How Did Sean Payton Use Hill?

In my preview of this past game against the Falcons, I had the following recommendations on how Payton could put Hill in a position to succeed:

  1. A lot of play-action passes
  2. Scheming up high-percentage early-down pass attempts for Hill
  3. Don’t just rely on him as a runner

Well, Payton apparently had a similar plan. Overall, after going back and looking at his play calls, he called 11 play-action passes for Hill, and, per Sharp Football Statshe called more early-down passes than runs.

This is exactly how Hill needs to be utilized. The Falcons, as expected, clearly did not respect him as a passer, so Payton made sure to ambush them.

The amount of single coverage and open looks for receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders was outstanding, and wasn’t something that the team had the luxury have previously.

The most surprising aspect of Payton’s play-calling was that he didn’t call a single designed run for Hill until the third quarter. Sure, he was the team’s leading rusher, but most of his rush attempts came on scrambles.

That is not necessarily something that I believe will continue to be the case, given Hill’s rushing abilities, but it does show that Payton used Hill as a pure quarterback, rather than a “gadget player”.

Meanwhile, for all of the people out there that wanted a two-quarterback system, Jameis Winston did not appear on the field once, and I think it is safe to say that won’t continue to be the case. With Hill, additionally, New Orleans also utilized more heavy personnel sets.

Tight ends Adam Trautman and Jared Cook each played over 25 snaps, as did running backs Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray. This is an identity that I expect Payton to continue to build with Hill under center.