“It’s a good piece to have”
As the Saints tried to get back into the win column despite missing several offensive stars, do-it-all tight end Taysom Hill led his team to victory.
Hill rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another score in New Orleans’ 39-32 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Hill was brought into key situations throughout the game to provide another offensive option for the Saints, and his contributions helped New Orleans win in and outs.
“I mean he’s such a weapon, and there’s no one else quite like him,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. “If you’re a defense you have to prepare for so many things with him because you never know where he’s going to line up. So his performance today, it’s hard to match. Everything he can do, and everything he can do. He knew how to do today to help us win. He is special.”
Hill had seen only limited action this season as a receiver and QB, but Saints head coach Dennis Allen and his coaching staff decided that when faced with the Seattle defense, versatility de Hill could be of significant advantage, a decision that paid off in spades in Week 5.
“Look, I have to give a lot of credit to (offensive coordinator) Pete Carmichael and the offensive staff for the game plan they put together, they handled it really well,” Allen said. “We talked earlier in the week, and Pete and I were talking, and he felt like some of the running game stuff that we could do with Taysom in the game could be really good against (Seattle), and he was right. Taysom was really effective.”
By bringing in Hill, the Saints expanded offensive options, having the defense explain whether he’ll pass, pass or run himself, which happened at one point on Sunday. And that’s not even including the extra play options when he’s lined up as a receiver.
“I think any time you have a guy who can play the quarterback position and he can affect the game with his legs, it creates a challenge for the defense because now you have to play 11-on-11 football. “, Allen said after the game. “If you start pushing your safety too far in the box, he can always do certain things in the passing game, so yeah, that’s a good play to have.
Hill rushed for two first-half touchdowns on straight snaps, giving the Saints an early lead. And late in the fourth quarter with New Orleans trailing by one point, Hill broke through again for a rushing TD, but this time on a 60-yard run. Hill pointed out after the game that by setting up the defense to anticipate a run on play third-and-one, the offense creates a situation where passing the front line means you’re free at home.
“Obviously it was a big play, they knew we were going to run the ball third and short, and so they were clearly selling to stop the run,” Hill said. “So if you get past the first tier of defense, there’s nobody left. And so once I broke that, I knew it was a foot race.”
Hill also threw for a touchdown, finding tight end Adam Trautman for a 22-yard reception on his only pass of the game. Overall, Hill contributed four scores and accounted for 28 of the 39 points the Saints put on the board.
Hill, 32, was signed by the Saints in 2017 as an undrafted free agent and was listed as a quarterback until this past offseason. But with Jameis Winston taking the starting spot for this season, New Orleans decided to put Hill’s talents to good use as a versatile tight end. His ability to play in multiple positions is what earned him his reputation as a Swiss army knife player, and it showed on Sunday.
He even set himself up to return punts, which he admitted he hadn’t expected and hadn’t practiced in a while, but was happy to help when the special teams unit called him. And while he knows the amount of use he saw on Sunday won’t necessarily carry over to every game, Hill said he’s embraced the unknown aspects of his unique situation.
“Look, I just work here and do what they ask me to do,” Hill joked. “Every week I go out there and prepare for what I’m going to be asked to do. It’s just a fluid business, and I anticipate it will be that way for at least the rest of the season.”
When asked how he plans to use Hill in future games, Allen acknowledged that after this performance, defenses will find ways to account for the tight end’s contribution. But at the same time, the nature of his versatility means the offense will find new ways to use Hill.
“They’re going to have ways to try to defend it and people are going to make adjustments,” Allen said. “But it’s always been part of what we’ve been able to do with Taysom and we’ll continue to find ways to use it.”
The Saints’ next game is Sunday, October 16 against the Bengals.