NFL Pre-Season football.
Often times, the end result of action during the League's exhibition schedule can often become very misleading, and apparently after the Saints' thrilling come-from-behind 19-17 victory out in Southern California this past Sunday Evening in their 2nd Pre-Season game over the Los Angeles Chargers; has led some very overzealous and passionate Who Dat fans to mistakenly believe that the team has a full blown back-up QB controversy on its hands.
Specifically. some fans of the Black and Gold now believe that the man who the franchise has entrusted this past off-season to be the designated #2 QB behind living legend and 19th year veteran (and future Hall-of-Famer) starting QB Drew Brees — 6th year veteran QB Teddy Bridgewater — was outperformed and might have been surpassed in this past Sunday's contest by the athletic "jack-of-all-trades" and immensely popular Saints 3rd string QB Taysom Hill.
But while it may true that the 3rd year veteran Hill has won the hearts of a large portion of the Who Dat Nation since the team signed him after he had been released by the Green Bay Packers two years ago just prior to the start of the 2017 NFL Season, the notion that the Black and Gold might now possibly have a back-up quarterback controversy on its hands, is a bit premature (if not outright false).
Hill led the Saints to a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the Chargers after the team had performed very poorly in the 1st Half of the contest, and found themselves down by a score of 17-3 at halftime. The former starting QB at Brigham Young University led the Saints offense to two 2nd half touchdown drives and a total of 16 points on the scoreboard; with a thrilling combination of running and throwing that clearly displayed Hill's athletic prowess and his obvious progression from last season to now, as a pure passer.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) August 19, 2019
But was it enough to convince the organization that was actually the case?
In his defense, the 26-year old Bridgewater — who starred at the University of Louisville in college and who was originally a 1st Round draft pick (#32 overall) by the Minnesota Vikings back in the 2014 NFL Draft — played despite being sick. according to what Saints head coach Sean Payton told reporters after the game.
However, prior to the game against the Chargers, Bridgewater has had an outstanding off-season and Training Camp; and very much looks to be more than capable of becoming a starting QB in the NFL someday soon, in his own right. Yet that notwithstanding, Bridgewater has only thrown 25 regular-season passes in the last 3 years combined.
And while he’s made a favorable impression upon the Saints offensive coaching staff and Payton (who himself was a former QB when he played), in the past several months, the simple fact is that Bridgewater had a disappointing showing against the Chargers this weekend while Hill shined brightly; and proved that he is capable of winning NFL games as a QB as well.
In fact, Hill's thrilling performance was enough for ESPN’s Mike Triplett to make this observation yesterday:
"Sunday’s game made you wonder a bit whether Bridgewater or Taysom Hill is a better bet to become Drew Brees’ long-term successor. Hill had 136 passing yards, two passing TDs and 53 rushing yards while rallying the Saints to a come-from-behind win. CBS’ announcers revealed that Sean Payton compared Hill’s potential to Steve Young."
Bridgewater had performed much better the previous week against the Vikings in the 1st Pre-Season game at the Superdome, going 14 of 19 for 134 yards and a TD. But that clearly wasn't the case this past Sunday against the Chargers.
“Well, he didn’t get a lot of help," Payton said to reporters in his post-game press conference after the game had ended. "There were a lot of dirty hands in those drives early on, offensively. We got the ball inside the 50 and just didn’t pull the job. That’s why I felt like it was really two different halves when you watch the game.”
Payton's defense of him aside, not all Saints fans are convinced that Bridgewater will become the eventual "heir apparent" to Brees; which might be behind the reason why the sizable number of Taysom Hill fans within the fan-base, feel that the dynamic 28-year old athlete has now earned the right to merit consideration as the "heir apparent" to Brees, himself.
But again, the question must be asked: is EITHER player going to become the actual "heir apparent" to Brees?
That likely depends on your personal point of view about each player, but ultimately it's a decision that will be made by Payton and Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis. And a decision that some observers feel might not be made possibly until next year's 2020 NFL Draft or the year after in the 2021 NFL Draft, when a player such as Clemson University QB Trevor Lawrence will be entering into the League.
With regard to the supposed back-up QB 'controversy' between Bridgewater and Hill in the minds of some Who Dats, it's important to remember that making player evaluations during the NFL Pre-Season can be very misleading.
And especially when you take into consideration that your starting QB can be going up against the opponent's 1st team defensive unit; while the next QB that takes over in the 2nd half of the game (usually the 3rd string QB like Taysom Hill was the other day) ends up getting to face the opponent's 2nd and 3rd team players — most of whom are either rookies or young players desperately battling to earn a spot on the Final 53-man Roster.
That's a sentiment not only held by most observers and analysts that cover the NFL. but even Payton himself.
"That factors in a lot," Payton said after the game's conclusion. "Sometimes, depending on the position, it can be challenging. It can be challenging for the running back, the quarterback. So we try as best we can to get them with other personnel on the field. That's part of it."
As a credentialed member of the Saints Media who has followed (and now covering) the Black and Gold for over 40 plus years, I personally believe that NEITHER Bridgewater or Hill will be the "heir apparent" to Brees. From my own perspective. I still think that the so-called "heir apparent" to Brees is still a young man playing College Football.
Just who that might be, is anyone's guess.
But undoubtedly. a lot of the debate among Saints fans within the past 48 hours as to which of these two players is better suited to lead the team in the future, stems from the panic and realization that Brees is getting closer and closer to retirement.
If you consider yourself a Saints fan however, you have to had known that this moment in time (Brees' eventual retirement from the NFL) was inevitable.
But with the events of the past two seasons that have seen the Saints just barely miss out on getting to the Super Bowl in consecutive years because of back-to-back last-minute heart-breaking losses in the Playoffs. that fact had been somewhat forgotten until the events against the Chargers this past Sunday.
And it's a subject that most Who Dats have either tried to ignore or pretend wouldn't be happening anytime in the near future, But that future is drawing closer to becoming a stark reality, and it has most Saints fans in a complete state of panic.
As far as any "controversy" as to who should be the #2 QB behind Brees, there is none — at least not in the minds of the Saints organization or the offensive coaching staff. Bridgewater will remain as the designated back-up behind Brees, and Hill will be the back-up to the back-up.
Yes, Taysom is an exciting and dynamic athlete, but that DOESN'T guarantee him of anything other than being a key contributor to the team's overall success, as he has been for the past two seasons.
Which means that honestly, it's only a debate among Who Dat fans themselves, and very likely not at all a point of view that's held by the Saints organization itself. What it is however is basic NFL Pre-Season football, and a level / caliber of play that often times is full of mismatches between veteran players and rookies / younger players.
And once again: Saints fans have allowed themselves to be fooled by the results of games that don't always give a full assessment what a player can or can't do — which is why the 2019 Saints / NFL Regular Season that begins in less than 2 weeks from now, can't come fast enough.....