Former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore broke down the Saints season, the Falcons matchup, and all things Taysom Hill on Sunday in a Q&A with fans hosted by Panini America, the official trading card partner of the NFL. While this is now retroactive, his confidence in Hill’s abilities was palpable. The decision to start Hill was controversial to say the least. Lance Moore iterated that he wasn’t surprised by the decision at all. Moore’s perspective – as someone who’d once been in the locker room – proved quite illuminating.
“I’m a guy that trusts Coach Payton,” Moore told fans Sunday. “So, if [Coach] Payton is making this decision, okay, I’m gonna ride with [Coach] Payton’s decision. He’s a Super Bowl winning coach, we’ve won the division a bunch of times, so if he feels like Taysom Hill gives us the best opportunity to win, so be it.”
In comparison to the overly complicated takes on the Hill matter, Moore’s analysis was refreshingly simple. That said, Moore wasn’t dismissive of the resounding criticism over the Hill start; the shoes to fill in the absence of Brees are astounding. But for being spoiled by the elite passing game of Drew Brees for 15 years, wasn’t it almost exciting to see a potentially entirely new era? To Moore, this was something Hill just needed to lean into, rather than try to emulate Brees.
“All of the guys have to step up in Drew’s absence,” Moore omnisciently said. “It isn’t a matter of Taysom [Hill] coming in and being Drew Brees. I think it’s a matter of everybody around him stepping up and playing even better than they’ve played, and then Taysom going out and handling his business. He doesn’t have to go out there and be Drew [Brees], he’s got to be the best version of himself and I think that that’ll be just fine.”
Perhaps no adversity builds a team camaraderie like the loss of your future Hall of Fame quarterback. We saw a complete performance in New Orleans dominating win; this doesn’t solely extend to the team stepping up on all sides of the ball. For Moore, this was just as essential to the success of Hill in his daunting start. As a former receiver on the team himself, he had a clear message for the receiving corp: step up for Taysom and make his job easier. Just as we’ve been spoiled watching his accuracy over the years, the same is true for these receivers.
“The receivers, running backs, tight ends, you don’t have to do anything extra, because Drew handles the extra,” Moore explained. Another oddly predictive notion, Moore continued that the receivers, “might have to make a play or two that’s not perfect to help continue this offense along.”
Drew is lauded for his ability to perfectly fit balls in double coverage, in the exact right moment, with throws that many quarterbacks wouldn’t dare. With Drew, this accuracy instantaneously establishes trust with his receiving corp. There’s another compounding factor to a midseason quarterback switch – the unspoken language between a quarterback and his receivers.
As a former Saints receiver himself, and as someone who had an electric, unspoken connection with Brees for several years, I was curious how this translates into the subtle nuances that go into this unspoken communication. Normally, with a backup quarterback, you’d emphatically think this would affect those abilities, last-minute adjustments with routes, and ultimately what the quarterback can communicate silently to his receivers. Moore’s response perhaps best justified the Taysom Hill start – Hill’s been on the other side himself.
“He’s been in the receiver room with the receivers talking to Drew, so he knows the lingo, he knows the ins and outs of the routes that they’re running,” Moore explained. “He understands from that perspective, and he’s been in the huddle with those guys listening to Drew, and he’s been in the huddle with those guys calling out the play.”
Prior to this conversation with Moore, I honestly hadn’t even considered this factor much in his start. While his offseason regimen was fastidiously focused on studying quarterback, Hill is widely known for his presence in nearly every unit meeting each week. With that, undoubtedly, comes a level of familiarity with each component of the offense.
This may be the most unique aspect to Hill’s gameplay yet; while he’s often compared to Steve Young, there is no starting NFL quarterback that’s had a career like Taysom Hill. He’s not lined up as a receiver on plays as a smokescreen – he’s in nearly every unit meeting each week. While one might argue that this detracts from his ability to focus on quarterback, when it comes to a midseason quarterback switch, it frankly may be critical to his instant success.
It was equal parts calming and incredibly insightful to hear such a thoughtful analysis by Lance Moore prior to this matchup, particularly with respect to Hill. As a former receiver, his perspective on how that unspoken connection uniquely translates with Hill’s background was quite illuminating. Lance really knows his New Orleans Saints!
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