Sean Payton picks favorite in Saints quarterback battle

New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

It’s not even training camp yet, but add this to your overflowing file cabinet of Hill-Winston quarterback drama.

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton plans to start Taysom Hill over Jameis Winston and will only give Winston a chance if the “experiment” fails, as reported by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.

According to Volin’s league sources, the quarterback competition is “not truly open” and Payton seems to have his mind set on Hill already. Or at the very least, “trying” him out as the starting QB and changing his game plan from there. Volin writes:

"Hill is such a unique dual threat that he’s worth trying out as the starting QB to start the season. And if the experiment fails, Payton can fall back on Winston and a more traditional pocket-based offense and move Hill back to his Swiss Army Knife role."

These latest reports contradict media sources who have reported a wide-open quarterback battle going into camp. Some, like NFL columnist Adam Schein, even went all in on Winston. In his heaping praise of the former Buc, Schein picked Winston as a dark horse candidate for MVP. Yes, you read that right. The 2021 NFL MVP.

Schein expected Winston to not only win the quarterback job but “throw a ton of touchdown passes, substantially cut down on the picks and be an upgrade in the passing attack from the 2020 version of Drew Brees.”

Sean Payton has reportedly chosen Hill over Winston for the starting QB job

Whims aside, the pros and cons of each signal-caller have been laid out on the table for a while now. From a purely objective perspective, there’s no clear advantage for either.

Hill boasted an impressive 72.7 percent pass completion in last season, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. But he’s severely lacking in experience, and a huge part of his appeal is his unpredictable decision-making. If opponents study his tapes and figure out how to crack his game, Hill won’t be nearly as effective as he was in 2020.

Winston would have been a no-brainer choice back in the heyday of football, but his 30 interceptions in 2019 just won’t cut it in the modern league. His superior arm gives him a slight edge over Hill, but then again, you have to wonder what Payton is looking for. Passing ability or versatility? Or is Hill just Payton’s favorite toy at the moment?

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Regardless of whether Payton picks Hill or Winston as his starting quarterback, we should be in for a very interesting season.

Media outlets, carry on playing your mind games.