Saints' Taysom Hill, Jameis Winston provide no clarity in QB competition in opening preseason loss to Ravens
BALTIMORE — In their quests to prove themselves as worthy successors to retired future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints quarterbacks Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston each gave the hosting Baltimore Ravens their best shots in their preseason opener Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium.
But unfortunately for the dueling quarterbacks and their team, neither delivered an authoritative, statement type performance that their coaches and fans had hoped. And so, the Saints will head to Week 2 of the preseason with just as muddled a quarterback picture as they did when Brees retired back in March.
The Ravens — playing without Lamar Jackson, who was on hand but has had limited practice time after missing the first 10 days of camp while in quarantine — won the game 17-14, thanks largely to six takeaways by the defense and promising second-half play by backup quarterback Tyler Huntley.
Here are three things we learned Saturday night:
1. This could take a while: Saints coach Sean Payton said he wanted to see his quarterbacks for a preseason game or two before making his decision on a starter. And for good reason. In practices, both have been solid, but neither has shined. Things didn’t change once Hill and Winston took the field for an actual game. Both did some good things, stringing together consecutive passes and directing promising drives. But both had an interception credited to them, and both displayed inconsistencies.
Payton may wind up having to go with a quarterback-by-committee approach by necessity. We’ll see if either can deliver a stronger performance next week.
2. The Saints need Michael Thomas: One of the challenges of evaluating these quarterbacks is the limited resources they have to work with. Thomas remains hobbled, and friction remains between he and Payton. But the Saints really do need him because there’s such little proven talent to work with as Hill and Winston threw to a cast of largely undrafted wideouts. Players like Thomas and star running back Alvin Kamara could help elevate each.
3. Young opportunistic defense for Baltimore: It’s just the preseason, yes. But you want to see promising play out of young players, and the Ravens did receive that from young players like Geno Stone, Patrick Queen, Sean Wade and others. Many veterans didn't play, but that meant opportunity for others, and the Ravens do appear to have improved the young depth of their defense.
Follow Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones.