In January, former Saints special teams coach Mike Westhoff predicted that Taysom Hill would be New Orleans’ starter in the post-Drew Brees era. In April, though, the Saints signed Jameis Winston to a one-year deal.
Winston led the NFL in passing in 2019, but he will become a better quarterback in 2020, even if it means sitting behind Brees.
“I think Jameis Winston was very smart in going there,” Westhoff said on The Zach Gelb Show. “He signed up for QB School 101 like he went to Harvard. That’s what he just did. That was smart. He’ll really help himself as a quarterback. They do a great job there, their coaches. Those guys really know what they’re doing.”
As for Brees’ successor, the Saints may have to make that decision sooner rather than later. Zach Gelb believes this will be Brees’ final season. So does Westhoff.
“I kind of do, too,” he said, “although certainly it’s going to be up to him because he can still play. He’s good. And the system that they have is very, very set for him. Sean Payton is an excellent coach. Sean does a really good job, and they’ve got a good group. He’s got a good offensive line, great receivers. Drew is not a guy who’s back there getting beat up, so he could play a while.”
Westhoff coached for the Saints in 2017-18. He saw signs then that Brees was diminishing.
“I thought a couple years ago when I was there that he was ending,” Westhoff said. “A little bit toward the end of the year, I saw some of his strength waning a little bit. I noticed that. And then also his family is beginning to grow, he’s got more things going on with them, and I know he’s involved in a lot of other things and you can’t play this game forever. So I kind of believe this will be his last year.”
Hill is a jack-of-all-trades player for New Orleans. Last year, he rushed 27 times for 156 yards and a touchdown and caught 19 passes for 234 yards and six touchdowns. As for passing, Westhoff said in January that Hill is a better passer than NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.
“I caught a lot of hell for saying that,” Westhoff said, laughing. “I got so many calls from Baltimore, you can’t believe it. They were like what the heck am I talking about? But I’ve watched him on the field, and I think he’s special.”
Winston, meanwhile, is very much a pocket passer. He threw for 5,109 yards, 33 touchdowns and 30 interceptions last season in Tampa Bay.
“I think you’ve got two totally different kind of guys,” Westhoff said. “If Taysom Hill were to be the guy, they would have to commit to a type of offense like Baltimore. They’d have to totally commit to that. But now they have got a little bit of each. I think that’s a question that’ll be answered throughout the course of this season, and I’m not sure how it will go. But you know me: I’ve got a tremendous faith in Taysom Hill, and I think under the right kind of situation, he can do it.”