Ian Book has a huge opportunity in Week 16
By Kristen Wong
Heading into Week 16, New Orleans Saints rookie Ian Book might feel a bit like the kid who’s always picked last for recess football games in grade school.
Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian are both out. The Saints tried calling a number of veteran quarterbacks, but none of them want to suit up.
NOLA is reluctantly left with one option: rookie Ian Book. (And backup Blake Bortles).
But Book shouldn’t look at this like he’s the Saints’ second-to-last choice for quarterback. Book is truly their second-to-last choice, but he can’t have that mentality going into the game.
The rookie has been patiently waiting for this chance in a season that saw the Saints go through three different quarterbacks already.
Book will be their fourth, and he has the opportunity to make a mark in Year One of his Saints career. With plenty of rebuilding in New Orleans’ future, it likely won’t be a long one.
The Notre Dame product was the Saints’ fourth-round pick in 2021, but he hasn’t taken a snap in a game since the preseason.
New Orleans Saints’ Ian Book gets opportunity of a lifetime in Week 16
Book left Notre Dame as the winningest quarterback in his school’s history — he completed 64 percent of his passes for 8,948 yards and 72 touchdowns against 20 interceptions.
His 72 touchdown passes are second-most for the Irish behind Brady Quinn. He also ran for 17 touchdowns and 1,517 yards.
Tommy Rees, who was Book’s quarterback coach from 2017 to 2019 and offensive coordinator in 2020, had this to say about the young signal-caller:
"“[Book] got opportunities like this early in his career at Notre Dame, and I was always extremely excited for him because you saw his ability in practice and you saw the way – like, he’s dang accurate and he makes the right decision repeatedly. You always wanted to see, if this is how he practices is that going to translate to a game, and it always did. I think that’s going to hold true.”"
Book himself knows exactly what is on the line in Week 16. The Saints have already lost the NFC South division title, but they can still make the playoffs. The best way to do that: win games.
The Dolphins have been on a victory rampage of late but only against sub-.500 teams.
Monday night’s primetime matchup between New Orleans and Miami will set the stage for Book to potentially dominate in his first NFL season game, and the stakes themselves are nerve-crushing.
At the very least, Book will have Sean Payton in his ear after Payton was cleared to return to the team on Friday.
So far in 2021, the Saints have recorded 311.7 total yards per game which ranks 26th in the league. The 7-7 Saints are coming off a semi-hot two-game winning streak, and they’ll be looking for another triumph in Week 16.
Can Book lead them to their eighth victory of the season?
By all accounts, Book seems well-prepared. Saints fans probably would have loved a reunion with Drew Brees more, but it’s up to Book to prove that he’s the real deal.