The New Orleans Saints are at a crossroads of their season, as Drew Brees is out with multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung. How much time Brees will miss is uncertain, but the Saints will go with Taysom Hill as the team's starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Starting Hill is a surprising move for the Saints, considering Jameis Winston finished the remainder of the team's Week 10 win over the San Francisco 49ers, which made the former Bucs quarterback the presumed favorite to start against Atlanta. Instead Payton turned to Hill, who has thrown just 18 passes in his career, over a former No. 1 draft pick that threw for over 5,000 yards last season (and was the league leader in passing yards).
Get the fantasy impact of the Taysom Hill news on the latest episode of Fantasy Football Today:
Saints Hall of Famer Deuce McAllister, who is the color commentator on the team's flagship radio station WWL 105.3 FM, shared his thoughts with CBS Sports on the Jameis Winston/Taysom Hill scenario, along with what the franchise should do going forward in the wake of Brees' injury. McAllister, the Saints' all-time rushing leader, also provided some insight on Brees' recovery and how the Saints offense will operate in the coming weeks.
What do you envision the scenario being for Taysom Hill, especially now that he's starting?
McAllister: "The biggest thing with Taysom is changing how he plays as far as taking on defenders, being physical with those guys and understanding, 'Hey look, I have to be able to last for 48 to 70 plays' and not just two plays here and there as a quarterback is concerned. So I definitely think he is going to have to change his mentality as far as how he finishes some plays.
"For the Saints, the overall goal is to win a game and that's why I think you'll see both those guys behind center and able to run that offense."
Who did you think Sean Payton was going to go with? Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, both?
McAllister: "I thought it was going to be a situation of both. I think he will have packages for both of those guys. Last year when the Saints were in this situation, they went with Teddy Bridgewater as far as the overall quarterback and the number of offensive plays probably went down to half for Taysom Hill. I don't know if you're going to have that same scenario play out in this particular situation. One indicator would be if they do sign a veteran quarterback, that at least gives them that protection where somebody can step in -- if we do lose both these guys as far as quarterbacks are concerned.
"I don't think Sean is going to show his hand, but one indicator will be if they do sign a veteran quarterback -- this is the way they are leaning as far as quarterback play is concerned."
Now that Jameis Winston has have that full week of preparation, what do you expect to see out of him this week (whether he plays or not)?
McAllister: "The biggest thing that you want Jameis to do is to go out and be Jameis. Now when you say that, you don't want or need the turnovers that he's had in the past. You want him to feel comfortable in that offense. You need to tailor that offense to fit his skill set, whether that's getting him outside the pocket and allowing him to showcase a bit of his versatility.
"I will be interested to see what type of passing concepts they do allow him to have whether they are true high-lows or reading the whole field -- based off of coverage this is where we are expecting you to go with the football. So I expect Sean (Payton) to be able to control that a little bit. At some point, Jameis is going to have to make some throws if he is the guy at quarterback and obviously he can do that in the NFL -- he's proven."
Do you think the Saints are becoming too reliant on Alvin Kamara?
McAllister: "He's carrying this offense no doubt about it. He's doing what he has to do to keep them in first place. Until those other weapons are in place to be consistent -- like they need offensively -- than it's the Alvin Kamara show."
Do you think they'll rely even more on him with Taysom Hill in there?
McAllister: "I definitely think so. I think everybody across the board is going to have to raise their game. Alvin really hasn't had a game where he's had over 25 touches, so when he does get back to 20 touches a game I think he can handle that type of load. You just don't want to wear him out as you make this push to qualify for the playoffs."
Michael Thomas' target share is down from last year. Obviously, the injury has something to do with that. What does he need to do just to get things going?
McAllister: "Well he's only been in three games. That makes it tougher in and of itself, so having another quarterback change doesn't help Mike as far as that is concerned. I think the biggest thing for him is making sure he's on the same page with those quarterbacks and making sure his explosiveness is back as well. It's not easy to come off a high ankle sprain and a hamstring injury and think you're going to be the same player right away.
"So hopefully he's gotten his feet wet where he feel comfortable enough with his body and is on the same page with those quarterbacks that he can be the Michael Thomas that we've come to know over the last couple of years."
Drew Brees' injury is pretty serious. Do you have confidence he can come back to the Saints this year?
McAllister: "Yea I feel pretty good about that -- him being able to come back. Unless something like that second opinion pops up, which we kind of haven't heard at this point. I think when you look at the overall prognosis, he was not hospitalized as far as the collapsed lung was concerned -- and I think if you are looking for any positives or silver linings, that's one. I do think the Saints feel in that situation that will be able to heal.
"The other question we don't know the complete answer to is how bad were those fractures to the ribs and how long will that take, whether it's three weeks, four weeks, eight weeks -- we really don't know. The one thing I do know about Drew Brees is he's going to push himself as hard as he can to make sure he can get himself healthy as quick as possible, for not only himself but for the team as well."
Has Drew Brees given any indication that this will be his last year?
"He hasn't really talked about it. He takes it one year at a time. When you look at it from the outside, you would assume that it's his last year, but we're just trying to enjoy it and we'll let him make that decision -- he and his family -- once it's over. At this point, his concern is trying to get as healthy as possible to be able to play in one of these last seven games as they approach."
*Deuce McAllister was made available by Crown Royal and the Water Break Campaign, allowing consumers to drink responsibly and hydrate during games with water.