Seeking an edge, Payton leaves door open for two-quarterback system without Brees

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Saints QB Taysom Hill vs. Vikings
(Photo: Parker Waters)

For you Louisiana football fans who double as seasoned citizens, you have experienced the two quarterback system before.

At LSU in the 1970’s, head coach Charley McClendon had Bert Jones and Paul Lyons. Later that same decade, current LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger alternated with David Woodley.

At Tulane in the early ’70’s, head coach Bennie Ellender went with Steve Foley and Terry Looney.

Welcome to Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill.

Saints head coach Sean Payton did a very smart and cagey thing in his very brief (but insightful) conference call Wednesday with New Orleans reporters. Understanding that he was just a few miles away from where the Seattle Seahawks were preparing for Sunday’s game against New Orleans, Payton was waiting to interject some intrigue into the week.

Asked if Taysom Hill’s role would change now that he’s the number two quarterback, Payton had a reply and a headline ready.

“That’s making the assumption that he is number two,” said Payton. “We will approach this game with two quarterbacks, and we will see about it. We will have the right plan relative to what those guys are doing.”

Absolutely perfect.

If this were a flare shot into the air, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll could see it all the way from their practice site in Renton, Washington.

Payton was asked by another reporter if this approach presented a tactical advantage?

“I think so,” said Payton.

So, if Teddy Bridgewater starts in place of the injured Drew Brees, how long will it be before Hill takes a snap? Do they alternate often during the same series?

You could see where that would cause some concerns for a defense.

Bridgewater, the pocket passer, is replaced on the next play by Hill, who is running the zone read along with who knows what else.

Alternating quarterbacks has happened before for New Orleans.

In 1984, then Saints head coach Bum Phillips alternated quarterbacks and tailbacks. Ken Stabler and Earl Campbell were in one group. Richard Todd and George Rogers then took over.

It was a disaster.

The Saints fell flat, losing to the Rams, 28-10.

As the game clocked ticked down, local TV sports director Buddy Diliberto told his camera crew to meet him later in front of a local funeral home. Diliberto’s TV standup went like this:

“There were people in here who played with more emotion than the Saints did Sunday.”

The phone at the local affiliate rang off the hook thanks to the ensuing outrage.

However, there were a few who called and agreed with Diliberto.

My guess is an offensive guru like Payton will have a better plan Sunday in Seattle.

If Payton can parlay the two quarterbacks into a .500 or better record by the time Brees returns, the Saints postseason hopes will be far from extinguished.

If the combo of Teddy and Taysom underachieve, Payton with his new five year contract extension will have a better feel for his road map to the future. That is, re-sign Drew Brees and draft his replacement.

In the meantime, the Saints may have his counterpart wondering about exactly what he will do with his quarterbacks come Sunday.

Payton’s first play call of the week was a dandy.

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Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

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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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