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LEADING THE COMPETITION? Saints QB Taysom Hill’s Debut Was a Whole Lot of Fun, If Nothing Else

8-for-9 passing for 72 yards and a rushing TD. Those were the numbers last night for Saints back-up QB Taysom Hill, and at first glance, you'd say that's pretty good for the 1st game of the 2018 NFL Pre-Season.

For a player that's been met with a lot of skepticism from some of the older, longer-time supporters of the team; it was a very good night for the 27-year old former starting QB at Brigham Young University (BYU).

Additionally, Hill rushed the ball 7 times for 52 yards, another team-leading total, and he seemed to gain more confidence the longer that he played.

"Those were designed runs, a couple of them," Saints head coach Sean Payton said to reporters in his post-game press conference.

"He made good plays with his feet. He's a good football player."

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

Want to know what else Hill is, if nothing else?


In fact, the Saints haven't had a QB on their roster this exciting, since the days of Aaron Brooks.

"Since the moment I got here, I was looking forward to this opportunity to play quarterback in the Saints offense," Hill said.

At first glance, it sure didn't seem that way.

Hill got off to a shaky start at first, and he still continues the habit (which comes natural to him) to make plays with his feet.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

Hill was also dropped for a pair of sacks, one right before half-time and the other one on a 4th down play early in the 3rd quarter that gave the Jaguars a short field and eventually led to a Jacksonville TD.

But he also very likely had to be a bit "off" with his accuracy at first, since he hadn't actually thrown a pass since the 2017 NFL Pre-Season last year, when he was still playing for the Green Bay Packers.

But midway through the 3rd quarter, you could see that Hill grew more and more comfortable, with each subsequential snap of the football.

His "best" throw of the night?

A laser beam "fast ball" that he hit rookie WR Tre'Quan Smith with right in the hands for a 26-yard gain (and also the Saints' longest play from scrimmage on the night) that set up his 2-yard touchdown run to narrow the Jaguars lead from double-digits to just 3 points.

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

"I felt like I needed to come in and throw the ball and dust off the rust," Hill said. "It was great to have the opportunity. It was awesome."

For those same Saints fans that were worried about Hill not being capable of becoming a "legitimate" starting QB in the NFL, the crisis has been averted at least for now, any way.

Perhaps one thing that's going be determined in regard to who eventually will emerge as Brees' designated #2 back-up in the season opener against Tampa Bay at the Superdome on September 9th, is whether or not Hill is the "real deal", or simply an over-hyped player who's been riding a wave of good fortune (specifically his great 2017 Pre-Season with Green Bay Packers last year) that's earned him a very unlikely opportunity.

If you're reading this as a Saints fan, you already know Hill's story by now; and truth be told, it's an interesting one.

But now with Sean Payton guiding him, all eyes are on Hill to see if he can become the next player on the list of notable QB's that Payton has developed throughout the years (like former Cowboys QB Tony Romo).

Photo courtesy of Layne C. Murdoch

Hill's athleticism is his biggest attribute, and some overzealous BYU fans have even compared him to a poor man's version of former BYU (and former San Francisco 49ers and NFL Hall of Fame) QB Steve Young — with the same running prowess but minus the pure throwing ability and precision accuracy that Young possessed during his legendary career.

Once again, I'll repeat the question:

Is that a fair or even remotely accurate comparison? Apparently, even Steve Young HIMSELF believes so.

But whether or not Hill can LEGITIMATELY be the "heir apparent" to Drew Brees is still up for debate and likely will continue to be debated for at least the next several weeks; especially during the rest of this month's remaining 3 Pre-Season games.

When the Saints host the Los Angeles Rams at the Superdome in their final Pre-Season game in 3 weeks from now, on August 30th?

We'll probably have a pretty good handle on whether Hill is truly capable of "living up to the hype" and becoming a long-term starter in the NFL for years to come.

But for now?

Photo courtesy of Michael C. Hebert

Just sit back Saints fans, and enjoy what promises to be a wild ride.

There may not be a clear "leader" right now in the race between Hill and Savage to become the #2 QB behind Brees for the 2018 NFL Regular Season.

But in the meantime, watching Hill play for the remainder of the 2018 Saints Pre-Season will sure be fun to watch, if nothing else......


Big Easy Magazine contributing writer and Saints News Network columnist Barry Hirstius is a 51-year old semi-retired journalist, former New Orleans-area sports editor, and writer previously with several sites that exclusively cover the New Orleans Saints football team. Additionally, he is a recurring guest on a variety of local Sports Talk Radio programs. Barry is also a New Orleans native who grew up as a fan of the team while attending games as a young boy at the old Tulane Stadium in the early 1970’s, originally following and now covering the team for a span of over 40 plus years. And perhaps most importantly of all: he is the Grandfather of two beautiful young girls, Jasmine and Serenity.....

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