The New Orleans Saints impressively defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Sunday 36-27.
However, it was a costly victory, as starting quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a torn ACL that will keep him sidelined for the rest of the 2021 season.
Winston was acquitting himself to being a starter again quite nicely, and had been doing a great job of minimizing the turnovers that plagued him earlier in his career.
He’ll finish the season with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.
It’s fair to wonder how this unfortunate circumstance will affect his future with the Saints.
However, injuries are a part of the NFL, and New Orleans will have to move on without Winston as they get ready to play the Atlanta Falcons in Week 9.
After the level of stability the Saints had at quarterback for 15 seasons with future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, head coach Sean Payton will be forced to adjust in hopes of keeping pace in the NFC playoff picture.
We’ll take a look at a few of the options New Orleans has, or may have, to choose from.
The second-place finisher of an intriguing camp battle, Taysom Hill now looks like he has an opportunity to run the first-team offense and never look back.
One thing is for certain; he’s the most familiar with the type of offense Payton likes to run, and has spent his four-year career working with one of the most creative offensive minds in the NFL.
Hill would appear to be as well positioned to have success as a backup quarterback as almost anyone in the league.
He started four games last year when Brees was out with a rib injury, and New Orleans was 3-1 in those games.
His yards per attempt weren’t that high (7.7 on the year in 2020), but he had a high completion percentage.
If he returns from his concussion and gets the nod, expect the Saints to deploy a similar short passing attack.
Hearing that Taysom Hill is very close to being back. So, some good news on that front after losing Winston today.
— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) November 1, 2021
There’s also a world where the Saints could decide to play a more traditional drop back passer under center.
The only experienced player in the quarterback room that fits that description is Trevor Siemian, who came in on Sunday in relief of Winston.
It’s possible that Payton views Hill as a more valuable weapon in a versatile, swiss army knife type of role.
When Hill is not the starter, and he appears on an offensive possession, he could be lined up at tight end, in the backfield, split out wide, or under center.
Using Hill primarily under center could make the Saints more predictable, and would be a reason why Siemian had a chance to be the starter.
He has started 25 games in his career, and has an above .500 record in those contests.
His 31:24 touchdown to interception ratio is not the most appealing, but neither was Winston’s in his last year in Tampa Bay.
If anyone could get Siemian to take better care of the ball, it might be Payton.
— NFL (@NFL) October 31, 2021
There have been a few rumors floated in the wake of Winston’s injury that New Orleans might look for quarterback help outside of the organization.
While the usual crop of free agent journeyman quarterbacks will likely be considered, there is one intriguing name who would reportedly be interested in ending up with New Orleans.
Retired future Hall of Fame quarterback Philip Rivers, who has spent his post-NFL life coaching high school football, would allegedly listen if New Orleans called upon him to fill their starting job.
Even if this did come to fruition, it’s hard to envision Rivers starting immediately after he signs, and it would be fair to wonder how effective he would be coming in cold.
But it certainly would be a fun storyline, considering that Rivers and Brees will forever be linked due to their time with the Chargers.