So, what is the final verdict?
Hill definitely exceeded all expectations on Sunday; he outperformed Matt Ryan, after all. However, he also got away with some inaccurate passes and mistakes, so it wasn’t as flawless as the box score may suggest.
Nevertheless, this game generated a lot of optimism regarding New Orleans’ ability to win without Brees.
Head coach Sean Payton proved that he can build a successful offense with Hill with more creative looks, play-action passes, and a more explosive offense, while the receiver duo of Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders held their end of the bargain.
The Saints actually were more diverse offensively that they were with Brees, whose targets had mostly gone to tight ends and running backs.
The Saints defense is becoming a strength for them, while their offense remained incredibly competent. Thus, with a soft schedule coming up, they’ll still be favorites in games they’ll likely play without Brees.
Obviously, they won’t win the Super Bowl with Hill, who remains too limited as a passer to trust long-term, but for 2-3 more games, perhaps this can work.
We need more data points with Hill against defenses who actually have film on him to prepare, but at the very least, Payton can feel justified in what was a risky decision to start the 30-year-old quarterback.
That’s right. Hill can now truly be considered a quarterback. Payton proved that in his play-calling for him. Say what you want, but this team certainly has a head coach that knows how to put his players in a position to succeed by maximizing on their strengths.
For now, it’s on to Denver, where this throw by Hill may look far different.
The question is, will it be for better or worse?