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Saints Film Room: 3 things to look for in the pass game with Taysom under center against the Falcons

Taysom Hill is the starting quarterback for the Saints now, and that changes things for the passing offense a bit — to say the least. 

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Despite how much Sean Payton loves him, despite paying him $21 million dollars, and despite all the hype over the last few years — I never thought I’d see the day Taysom Hill would start a game at quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. But it looks like he will do just that Sunday.

I really thought Coach Payton would stick the known commodity in Jameis Winston at quarterback. And even though he hasn’t exactly named a starter outright, it looks as if his favorite toy will be under center on Sunday.

Say what you will about the decision — and there is plenty of reason to question it — but one thing is for certain: It’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out.

If he does indeed start the entire game, the BYU product’s first opponent will of course be the division rival Atlanta Falcons. And while I’m sure this game will consist of a run-heavy approach from the offense, I wanted to highlight a couple of things to look for in the passing game.

Falcons adjusting their Cover 1 Man looks

So the Falcons primarily run three coverages: Cover 2 and 3 Zone and Cover 1 man. Their Cover 1 looks vary depending on who they’re playing.

Typically, like most Cover 1 defenses, they’ll be manned up across the board, with four rushers, one high safety and one robber to cut off in-breaking routes.

But what I’m curious to see is if they alter these looks against an athlete as dynamic as Taysom Hill in the pocket.

You would think they’d put a spy on him in replacement of the robber role, but what they did against Mitchell Trubisky in Week 3 was just rush five and man coverage wide, with one high safety.

This is what happened:

So, if they want to rush five or play a robber, they risk losing Hill for a big gain on scrambles. But if they spy him, they’re potentially allowing him more time to find a receiver in single coverage.

It’ll then just come down to him going through his reads and finding an open man. He hasn’t exactly done this consistently, but he is definitely capable if you give him the look.

Disguising Cover 2 pre-snap

If I were the Falcons, I would mainly ditch the Cover 1 looks and drop back into zone on obvious passing downs, forcing Hill to read multiple spot defenders.

One of the ways they do deploy their zone looks a lot of the time is by disguising a one-high look, then switching to a Cover 2 Zone look post-snap.

They pretty much line up in a one-high look pre-snap almost every down. Most of the time, it’s with either a Cover 3 Zone drop or Cover 1 Man.

But they do run Cover 2 Zone on about a fifth of their pass plays defended, which is top five in the league, as far as usage.

This could potentially confuse Taysom into making a throw he shouldn’t Sunday afternoon. Hopefully for him and the offense, he catches this detail on film and takes it into account.

Flat defender reads vs. Zone

If the Falcons are going to drop back into zone a bunch, I think exploiting the weak-side flat defender would be a good way to give Hill simple, one-man reads.

Take these two plays for example:

If Trubisky can make these reads, I think Hill can. These are simple scat-type concepts to horizontally stretch the flat defender and make him decide between the in-breaking hunt/slant route and the swing route. It also helps when that swing route is being ran by Alvin freaking Kamara.

Also, If the Saints catch the Falcons in a predictable looking Cover 2 Zone biting down on short routes, hit them in the ‘ole turkey hole, as Jon Gruden would say.

Here’s a classic Cover 2 hole shot by Brees to Tommy Lee-Lewis as an example, in honor of Brees maybe never being able to play against the Falcons again.

But we’re not going to think about that right now.

I could not be more excited to see how Taysom Hill looks in this game. Good or bad, it should be very interesting.

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