The New Orleans Saints will meet the Dallas Cowboys in this week's iteration of Thursday Night Football. Sean Payton's Saints are desperate to put an end to a haunting four-game losing streak that has dropped them below .500 and out of the NFC playoffs for the first time this season.
Payton has seemingly decided to make a change at the quarterback position, following Trevor Siemian's disappointing performance in a Thanksgiving blowout to the Buffalo Bills in Week 12. Siemian managed to complete just 17 passing attempts for a pathetic 163 yards. All signs point to offensive Swiss army knife Taysom Hill receiving the start against the Cowboys, despite him dealing with an ongoing plantar fasciitis foot injury. Hill recently signed a lucrative four-year contract extension with the Saints that guarantees him $22.5 million and will now aim to salvage what once appeared to be a promising season.
Handing the reins over to Hill is the appropriate, correct decision. It possibly would have occurred much earlier had Hill not suffered a concussion while lining up as a wide receiver against Washington in Week 5. Siemian was at the helm for all four of New Orleans' latest defeats, and a change at the position is more than necessary. Siemian managed to complete just 57% of his passes while turning the football over once per contest—both represent unacceptable marks for a starting quarterback by today's standards. Rookie signal-caller Ian Book continues to serve as the third quarterback, and moving forward with Hill represents New Orleans' best chance of recapturing their early-season form.
Payton's flexibility as an offensive play-caller has led to a resounding amount of success throughout his coaching career. He's proven plenty capable of utilizing Hill's unique skill in a variety of ways and Thursday should welcome more of the same. Placing Hill under center expands the playbook for an unappealing group of skill position players that have been rather unproductive in recent showings. Hill's dual-threat ability allows Payton's creative mind to flourish. Defenses must account for any and all scenarios when Hill takes the field and it should allow his surrounding weapons to play with more energy while directly leading to more efficient offensive showings, particularly in the red zone, where the coverage becomes tighter and the margin for error becomes smaller.
Hill will likely make his first start of the 2021 campaign and his ability to win games in Payton's system was largely proven by a four-game stretch in 2020 in which Hill compiled a 3-1 record as the starter as Drew Brees was dealing with a ribs injury. New Orleans' season, which once appeared to be playoff-bound, is now more likely to go down as a wasted campaign as they continue to fall out of the NFC's cluttered and wildly unpredictable wild-card picture.
Payton has often boasted about Hill's distinctive abilities as a quarterback. He'll now rely on those traits in hopes of rescuing the Saints' campaign.