It turns out the Jameis Winston experience in New Orleans may have only lasted two quarters.
When Drew Brees was forced to leave the New Orleans Saints Week 10 win over the 49ers with the type of injuries you sustain in a car accident, the football world was gifted with the return of Jameis Winston.
New and improved in more ways than one — Winston had offseason LASIK surgery and is also with a new team — Jameis replaced Brees with relative ease and managed to not commit the same mistakes that made him expendable in Tampa Bay.
It looked like Winston was going to be the short term replacement for Brees while he misses the next handful of weeks recovering, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
According to Ian Rapoport from NFL Network, the Saints seem to be seriously considering starting Taysom Hill on Sunday over Winston.
“The Saints have given Taysom Hill starter reps in practice this week, source said. So while Jameis Winston took over for injured Drew Brees last week, signs are pointing towards Hill getting his first NFL start at QB if all checks out after practice,” Rapoport tweeted on Friday.
Will Saints actually start Taysom Hill over Jameis Winston?
Getting all of the first team starter reps certainly seems to indicate that Hill will be the starter against Atlanta on Sunday. But this wouldn’t be the first time Sean Payton went galaxy brain to try and outsmart an opponent, specifically a divisional one.
Hill is the Saints $21 million gadget man who comes in a handful of times a game in trick play formations that, to Sean Payton’s credit, often times work. That’s not a typo, the Saints are paying Hill obtuse amounts of money to not be the backup quarterback — something we saw last year when Teddy Bridgewater, not Hill, replaced an injured Brees for a large stretch of the season.
Bridgewater replacing Brees last season is the evidence we all used to assume it would be Winston under center for New Orleans, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. What this ultimately comes down to is how much we want to buy into the mental chess that Payton is playing. He refused to name a starter after Sunday’s win and this seems like a case of trying to throw to stones at the Falcons knowing they won’t be able to dodge both.
Giving Hill starter reps for purpose of confusing Atlanta seems like classic Payton but we won’t know what he’s really thinking until Sunday rolls around.