Taysom Hill presents a Saints wrinkle the Cardinals must iron out on TNF
Oct 20, 2022, 11:15 AM
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
TEMPE — The New Orleans Saints enter their Thursday Night Football matchup against the Arizona Cardinals with question marks surrounding their starting quarterback.
With Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston both banged up entering the short week, who gets the nod on Thursday will be a gametime decision.
What isn’t up for debate is the fact that Arizona will get a serving of Taysom Hill in some way or another in Week 7.
He may be labeled as a tight end, but Hill is much more than that, serving as New Orleans’ Swiss army knife.
Just take a look at his stats so far this season. Despite being listed as a pass catcher, Hill has more passing attempts (five), carries (26) and kick returns (three) than receptions (one) through five games.
“There’s no doubt about his physical talent,” defensive end J.J. Watt said Wednesday. “He can do a lot of different things; he can do them very well. They’re also using him in a multitude of different ways to try to keep people off balance, to try and keep you guessing, to try and let you not know what’s going on.
“For us, it’s just extremely important to play our game and make sure what we’re supposed to do and we execute our assignments and we tackle well and let everything handle itself.”
It’s easy to see why New Orleans is utilizing Hill in the ground game, with the 221-pounder accounting for a team-high five touchdowns to go along with 267 yards, good enough for second among Saints runners behind only Alvin Kamara (302).
The 1-2 punch of Kamara and Hill has been crucial in lifting up the team’s rushing attack. The Saints currently sit seventh in rushing yards per game with 151.1 and are tied for third in rushing touchdowns with eight.
The Cardinals defensive line will be leaned upon mightily to help take away the run, something it’s been able to do for the majority of the season as the seventh-best unit against the ground attack.
Keeping that run game in check will allow Arizona’s pass rush to go to work on either Winston or Dalton, the latter of whom has played the Cardinals the previous three seasons despite not being in the same division. All the games resulted in losses for the Red Rifle and the three teams he played for over that span.
Cardinals fans will likely remember Dalton’s most recent showing as a member of the Chicago Bears last season. In Arizona’s road win, Dalton accounted for two touchdowns but threw four picks and was sacked three times.
Winston, if he plays, poses the bigger threat to pop off.
The quarterback was turning in a decent start to the season before back and ankle injuries sidelined him the past three games. Completing 63.5% of his passes for 858 and four touchdowns, Winston was letting it fly.
But a lot like most of his career, with the touchdowns came the interceptions. For all the good Winston has shown running the offense, he still has a knack for turning the ball over, committing five picks through three games.
“I don’t (have a read on what the Saints are going to do at quarterback), but it’s a run-first offense,” defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said Tuesday. “If it’s Andy or if it’s Jameis, it’s a run-first offense. The offensive line has been built with money and with draft picks and they’re very good, they’re very well coached.
“Whoever plays quarterback, their system won’t change in my opinion. We’ll see. It doesn’t matter to us who plays, we just got to do our job and play our best on Thursday.”