Saints have created a role that Trevor Siemian can handle

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Trevor Siemian
(Photo: Parker Waters)

METAIRIE – Now it’s Trevor Siemian’s turn.

For at least a week.

Siemian will make his first start as the New Orleans Saints quarterback against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in the Caesars Superdome.

His most immediate task is to help his team continue the success it had in going 5-2, winning its three most recent games, while Jameis Winston was the starting quarterback before sustaining a season-ending knee injury against Tampa Bay last Sunday.

Siemian replaced Winston in the second quarter and was efficient and productive enough to help lead the Saints to an improbable 36-27 victory over the reigning Super Bowl champions.

He completed 16 of 29 passes for a modest but sufficient 159 yards and had one touchdown and did not throw an interception.

All in all it was a pretty good impersonation of Winston vintage 2021. Siemian doesn’t have the arm strength that has enabled Winston to hit several deep passes, though he did connect with Kevin White on a 38-yard touchdown drive to start the second half that demonstrated that the Saints offense was going to hold up its end.

Siemian’s first opportunity to guide the Saints offense was clearly a success and there is a template for what he’ll be expected to do now that he will start the game and not be thrust into it unexpectedly.

This is the third consecutive season that the Saints have lost an injured starting quarterback for a series of games.

The 10 remaining regular-season games – and any post-season games that the Saints might play – that Winston will miss present a greater challenge than the seven that Drew Brees missed two years ago and the four that Brees missed last season.

But Siemian’s task is the same as the one Teddy Bridgewater had two years ago and Taysom Hill had last season. It’s essentially to do what he did against the Bucs.

The dynamic is different this week than it was last week because just as Siemian has the advantage of a week’s preparation for starting, the Falcons have the advantage of scouting tape of Siemian and the Saints that didn’t exist during Tampa Bay’s preparation.

Whether the Saints or the Falcons take the greater advantage will be determined Sunday

Hill will be available after missing the last two games because of a concussion. He didn’t exit the concussion protocol until early this week and head coach Sean Payton decided to start Siemian against the Falcons, though he made no commitment for next week’s game at Tennessee or any other.

“We’ll see what we do each week,” Payton said.

If Siemian can do what Bridgewater did two years ago and Hill did last season, Hill can stay in his valuable swiss army knife role and Siemian can keep being the No. 1 quarterback.

And if Siemian does what’s expected of him the Saints can expect to stay in the thick of the playoff race, just as Bridgewater and Hill kept them in position to win NFC South championships after Brees returned.

“I think the consistent thing is that number one, we have a pretty good team, we play good defense, and we run the ball really well,” Payton said. “The two best allies for a quarterback are a good running game and a good defense. It’s hard to play that position if you’re not playing good defense or if you can’t run the football.”

Siemian credited Payton, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and the rest of the offensive staff for creating an opportunity for backup quarterbacks to succeed.

“I think they do a really good job of not just playing to the quarterbacks’ strengths, but all of the offense’s strengths for all 11 guys on the field,” Siemian said. “They put guys on the field in good spots to be successful and quarterback is certainly included in that.

“That and the team is so good. There’s not a lot of players here that are aloof. A lot of the guys you see here on this team are smart, tough football players. For me, that’s exciting to be included in a group like that.”

Siemian certainly doesn’t have to be Brees. He just have to do what Winston, Bridgewater and Hill have done – perform capably in a manageable role, surrounded by Payton, his staff and the rest of a very good team.

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Les East

CCS/106.1 FM/Daily Iberian

Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. The New Orleans area native’s blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists. He has since become a valued contributor for CCS. The Jesuit High…

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