The New Orleans Saints won their Week 2 preseason showdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-21. Heading into the outing, it was very much up in the air whether Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill would ultimately earn the starting quarterback job for the regular season.
“[Head coach Sean] Payton told me he hopes to name his starter before the final preseason game Saturday against Arizona, so Winston’s performance with the first team for multiple series will be the most important game he’s played since he lost his job in 2019 in Tampa Bay,” NBC’s Peter King reported before the outing.
Well, Winston heard the message loud and clear. He came out of the gate on fire, completing 9-of-10 passes for 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter. If there was any doubt about his ability to lead the first-team offense, it dissipated immediately after that performance.
Hill, meanwhile, also made a case for himself – albeit a far less impressive one. Many viewed the former BYU standout as a legitimate threat to steal the starting job after he went 3-1 in place of an injured Drew Brees last year, and he sort of showed why after overcoming a slow start to Monday’s game.
When it was all said and done, Hill finished with 138 yards and one touchdown on 11-of-20 passing. Unfortunately, while the final stats amassed are decent – they don’t tell the whole story. Hill frequently held on to the ball too long against a second-tier defense, refused to utilize his much-heralded running abilities, and seemed far less comfortable running the offense than Winston.
After the game, Payton was asked point blank about when he’d name a starter.
“I don’t have a timeframe,” Payton said. “When we know what direction we are going, we will let you guys know. We’re not going to try to anticipate saying, ‘Hey, it’s going to be midweek or next week.’ That’s, I think, the best way for us to handle it. It’s kind of how we’ve always handled something like this.”
Last year, when Payton opted to name Hill as Brees’ replacement over Winston, Saints players full on revolted against the decision. Given how much better Winston has looked up to this point, it’s hard not to see a similar dynamic unfolding if he somehow isn’t named the starter this time around.
Trey Lance’s GF knows how to make a first impression. https://t.co/V8FvncNUNp
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 23, 2021