NFL Roundtable: The jury's still out on Taysom Hill
Each week we sit down with BetAmerica Extra columnists Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Scott Shapiro to discuss the latest news from around the NFL. This week they weigh in on Taysom Hill's first career start, the Steelers' biggest weakness, and Carson Wentz's spotty play.
Have the Saints found Drew Brees’ successor in Taysom Hill?
Ashley: I need to see more from Hill before I’m sold on him as a long-term replacement. The Saints were averaging 36.4 pass attempts per game before Brees’ injury in Week 10. On Sunday, Hill was called to pass just 22 times against the Falcons, who give up the second-most passing yards in the league. The Saints ran almost twice as often as they went to the air, and all three of their touchdowns came on the ground. Hill was sharp, overall, but I’m curious to see how he’ll look against tougher defenses and when he’s asked to do more in the passing game.
James: With Drew Brees sidelined, Taysom Hill is the best fit in his absence. The fourth-year veteran played well in his first start, but he wasn’t asked to do much as New Orleans rode a dominant defensive performance to a convincing win over Atlanta. The Saints' ferocious defense can make it easier for a new quarterback, and I want to see more of Hill’s passing skills before buying into him as the successor. Peyton believes in him, though, and Hill will have at least a couple more games to showcase his quarterbacking skills before Brees returns.
Scott: Hill enjoyed success in his first career start against the Falcons on Sunday afternoon, but I am not convinced he is the long term successor to Drew Brees. Sure, the former BYU signal caller is a dynamic rusher, but his ability to throw the ball down field is still a major question. Now that there is tape of him being more than a gadget player, I expect defensive coordinators to exploit his weaknesses and prove he is not a legitimate starter in the National Football League.
Looking ahead at the schedule, which team has the best chance of ending the Steelers’ perfect season?
Ashley: Baltimore should have beaten Pittsburgh at home on Nov. 1, but Lamar Jackson’s four turnovers cost the Ravens in a 28-24 defeat. Playing Pittsburgh at home on Thanksgiving will add a layer of difficulty for the Ravens, but Baltimore can win simply by cutting down on mistakes. Its rushing attack outgained Pittsburgh’s by 217 yards in Week 8, and can spring an upset by continuing to expose the Steelers’ weakness against the run. If the Ravens don’t get the job done Thursday, Buffalo (on the road) or Indianapolis should finally take down the NFL’s lone undefeated team.
James: Indianapolis is the best team left on Pittsburgh’s schedule. The Steelers must also play Baltimore and Buffalo, but Indianapolis is better defensively. And I love how Phillip Rivers has flipped the switch after appearing washed-up earlier in the season. Rivers was brilliant at times leading the Colts to a comeback overtime win over Green Bay, rallying the Colts back from a 28-14 halftime deficit, and Indianapolis is coming as December approaches. If Pittsburgh remains unbeaten, Indianapolis will have extra incentive on Dec. 27.
Scott: The Steelers have clearly cemented themselves as one of the two best teams in the AFC, but they're still unlikely to go undefeated. Their Thanksgiving matchup versus the Ravens and Week 16 contest against the Colts present major challenges, but their road game in Buffalo has the best chance of ending their perfect season. The Bills defense has been improving, and Josh Allen and his receiving corps match up well against a Steelers defense that has been susceptible to the big play in 2020. They should give Mike Tomlin’s squad all they can handle in upstate New York.
Is it time for the Jalen Hurts era to begin in Philadelphia?
Ashley: I would like to see it, but I don’t see it happening. The Eagles are still in playoff contention at 3-6-1, even though their lead in the NFC East probably won’t last much longer. Hurts could get his feet wet against Seattle’s bottom-ranked pass defense, but then he would face the gauntlet of Green Bay, New Orleans, and Arizona. For a while now, I have questioned Philly’s commitment to Wentz, but I believe head coach Doug Pederson will stick with his veteran quarterback over an inexperienced rookie this late in the season.
James: Not if Philadelphia wants to win the NFC East. If the Eagles were out of playoff consideration, it would make sense to bench him in order to see what Jalen Hurts can offer. However, I don’t think Hurts is capable of winning key late-season games with the talent around him in Philadelphia at this stage in his career. And there’s no chance the coaching staff would give up on the rest of the season by inserting a raw rookie into the starting lineup. Philadelphia controls their own destiny in the most putrid division ever, and Wentz provides the best chance to earn a fourth consecutive playoff berth.
Scott: I am not sure it is time for the Jalen Hurts era to begin in Philadelphia, but giving the rookie a start or two is worth a shot. Carson Wentz looked like a future Hall of Famer in 2017 before tearing his ACL, but has been awful in 2020. The second overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft has lost the ability to read opposing defenses and has done a terrible job of protecting the football. Hurts may not be ready to shine, but it is hard to imagine he could play worse than Wentz has of late.