Dual-threat option is the future at quarterback for Saints

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Harrison Smith, Taysom Hill
(Photo: Parker Waters)

“Will the Saints draft a quarterback?”

The question was posed Thursday night to my Friday Night Football co-host JT Curtis.

His reply was as accurate as a Drew Brees back shoulder throw.

“If they take one, they’ll take a guy who does what Taysom Hill does,” said Curtis. “They can’t run two different offenses.”

The days of the dropback passer in New Orleans are numbered.

The Saints affirmed the move in the direction of the run-pass option quarterback when they traded back into the seventh round to take Mississippi State quarterback Tommy Stevens.

The 6-foot-5 Stevens is an imposing figure in the shotgun. His numbers as a quarterback in one season at State were a little less so. He completed 60 percent of his throws with 11 touchdown passes and five interceptions.

In a Zoom meeting with New Orleans reporters, Stevens was asked about being picked by the Saints.

“I am at a loss for words.”

Stevens said that pre-draft, the Saints were one of the teams that showed him the most interest.

On Saturday evening, Saints head coach Sean Payton said New Orleans could not risk Stevens being signed by another club as an undrafted free agent.

“He was leaning toward another team,” said Payton.

Not anymore.

As a backup quarterback, Stevens played many positions at Penn State before he transferred south.

“Running back, H-back, tight end, wide receiver, lot of different things,” said Stevens.

Payton said that Stevens will certainly be tried on special teams.

If Stevens makes the roster, he will be given the chance to perform the roles that Hill fulfills now. Stevens has played as a receiver as well as a runner on reverses or zone read plays like the Saints have used Hill.

On punts, with his running and passing skills, Stevens also gives the Saints options for fakes. He will likely get plenty of chances to serve on punt and kickoff teams.

In the meantime, the Saints are ahead of the curve offensively.

Of the eight clubs who reached the conference semifinals in the 2019 season, half had quarterbacks who were outstanding runners.

Lamar Jackson, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson and Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes can all hurt defenses running the football.

The Saints, for the future, are embracing that trend.

When the Hall of Fame career of Drew Brees ends, the Saints will embrace the run-pass option, a style that suits his successor.

And to think that on September 3rd, 2017, a footnote at the time now seems like so much more of a headline.

“The Saints claim quarterback Taysom Hill on waivers from the Green Bay Packers.”

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Ed Daniels

Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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