Whether it be missing open guys downfield, holding onto the ball too long or being indecisive, Taysom Hill had probably his most discouraging performance of the year.
The Saints got down early, in large part due to Hill, and he was given keys to the entire pass offense to try and lead them back. He had his moments, but ultimately failed.
He held the ball for an average of 2.76 seconds per drop-back according to PFF, which was T-5th highest among 34 quarterbacks. As a result, the backup quarterback was sacked five times.
He had an average depth of target of 6.5 yards, which was 24th out of 33 QBs, despite having receivers open downfield on many occasions that he didn’t see.
This was by far the most frustrating aspect of re-watching this game.
If it wasn’t right in front of his face on one of his first couple reads, he wasn’t really hitting it. And when it gets down to it in a situation where you’re down and having throw a lot, you’ve got to create some open throwing lanes with your eyes and discipline.
Take this play for example:
It’s 3rd-and-8, and the Saints run pivot routes with Jared Cook streaking up the middle of the field. And the Eagles are in Cover 2 Zone.
He should recognize the mismatch right away pre-snap that is Cook on the backup linebacker Alex Singleton, who’s struggled all year.
He looks to his right briefly after the snap, but he’s eyeing Michael Thomas most of the way on the whip route to the left. But what he doesn’t seem to understand is that MT’s route isn’t deep enough to get the first down.
If he would’ve glanced back to the right, he would’ve seen that the linebacker didn’t carry Cook’s seam route up the middle at all.
He had enough time, but just didn’t think to move the defender by looking MT’s way and coming back to Cook. They would end up missing a field goal after.
That’s what I mean by being discipline and opening a window with your eyes a QB. It’s a skill that takes a ton of reps to master, and Taysom has shown flashes of it on half-field reads, but not when he has to consider multiple moving parts and digest it quickly.
Another example of not noticing an open receiver:
Not only does Taysom throw an inaccurate ball on the run to Cook here, but he misses the receiver he should’ve thrown to in the first place.
The Saints are running a flood concept to the right side of the field off of play action, and the Eagles counter it with Cover 3 Zone.
Adam Trautman is running the post route, and is wide open.
Not only is there plenty of space behind the underneath player, but the deep third corner has his back turned to him. This should be the throw.
Instead, he takes the more difficult option, and misses.
So, that was an example of a misread and inaccuracy. This next play is an example of just not seeing the field and being indecisive late in the game.
It’s 3rd-and-8 on the second-to-last drive of the game, and Emmanuel Sanders is going to come open on a curl route late.
Taysom stops to make the throw, and pump fakes, then pulls it down and gets sacked.
He was under pressure near the end, but he had enough time to make this throw if he was composed and being deliberate with his process. He wasn’t, and Lutz would end up missing the field goal on the next play.
It wasn’t all bad, as he had some nice throws in there.
Like this nice ball to Mike T vs. Quarters coverage on third-and-long.
He steps up, waits for the underneath defender to clamp down on AK and lets it rip.
On the very next play, he’d hit Sanders on the big touchdown in the third quarter.
The Eagles are in Cover 3 Zone here, and the Saints run a Yankee concept with a back-side curl to hold the deep third defender to the left.
Hill sees the middle-of-the-field safety clamp down on the crosser, and the deep-left-third defender being held by MT’s curl. This leaves the deep MoF open for Sanders, who wins inside on his route decisively.
Good throw and an even better catch.
It wasn’t all Taysom’s fault, either. The offensive line wasn’t great, and his receivers dropped two balls.
The surprising thing about this game was the strength of the offense was the part that under-performed. Terron Armstead led the line in pressures given up (4), with Peat short behind (3). Josh Hill was a disaster in pass protection, giving up three pressures on only eight pass-blocking snaps.
He was also the reason Taysom didn’t have enough time to come back to his backside read on the 4th-and-2 play.
Although, as Taysom said in an interview Wednesday, he probably should’ve just let this rip deep to Sanders.
My final take on this game is that it wasn’t all Taysom’s fault, but he simply amplifies the weaknesses of the offense with his weaknesses. When the offensive line is giving up pressure, he isn’t aware of it and refuses to take off out of the pocket.
He holds the ball too long and takes a few extra ticks to get through his reads, which doesn’t seem like that long on paper, but when you’re watching live it looks excruciatingly slow. It’s like he’s trying prove he can play in the pocket and is not utilizing his strengths as an athlete in the process.
Plus, he isn’t very good at throwing on the run, which doesn’t help.
He’s really not that inaccurate of a passer, but he’s just not pinpoint accurate, which is what Saints fans are used to. So, he has a lot of throws that are catchable, but not exactly accurate. And that results in some drops by receivers who are also used to pinpoint accuracy.
Overall, this game confirmed that Taysom has a long way to go as a quarterback. All hope is not lost, but the 30-year-old needs time to develop. The question is — how much more time does he have to do so, and are you comfortable giving him the keys to the offense for the entire 2021 season to see if that development pays off?
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