A savage hill to climb
The 2018 New Orleans Saints have penciled in a return trip to Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Super Bowl LIII, but, to get there, the team will have to get through a schedule that features the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
While reaching the big game on February 3 is the main objective of the organization, another still important objective is to find a suitable backup for future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.
This year’s main nominees for the position are Brigham Young University product Taysom Hill and former Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage. Also on the roster is J.T. Barrett who was an undrafted free agent who signed with the team out of Ohio State.
All three of the candidates got considerable playing time in the team’s first two preseason games as Brees sat out both games.
Hill got the starting nod in Week 2 of the preseason against the Arizona Cardinals and held the distinction of posting of four turnovers and a fumble. The fumble was recovered by Hill and led to a 52-yard field goal off the right foot of Wil Lutz.
According to WWL-TV, Hill finished 11 of 15 for 68 yards to go with 43 yards rushing.
Savage came into that ballgame in the second half and posted marks similar to those of Hill. WWL-TV reported, he went 6 of 7 for 53 yards, and was sacked three times.
Barrett came into the game during the final six minutes going 3 for five and 45 yards. He was also responsible for a 12-yard touchdown run in the final minute of a 20-15 loss.
Not all of the offensive shortcomings against the Cardinals were attributed to the quarterbacks. Much of that distinction went to the wide receiver corps. “(Ted) Ginn’s running the wrong route twice. We’re aligned wrong,” head coach Sean Payton said. “Listen, I told ’em, I think in general watching it for two weeks now it hasn’t been good. I think our receiver play has been average at best.”
Once the Saints figure out who will backup Brees this year as well as the wide receiver woes, the team will have to navigate through a schedule that features games non-divisional games against the NFC East, AFC North, as well as against the Minnesota Vikings and Los Angeles Rams.
Divisional games start Week 1 with a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccanneers and continues Sunday, September 23, in Atlanta. The Falcons make a return trip to New Orleans on Thanksgiving night, and the Saints play the Carolina Panthers home-and-home over the final three weeks of the season.