Saints to start Siemian over Hill at QB vs. Falcons

  • Covered Saints for eight years at New Orleans Times-Picayune
  • Previously covered LSU football, San Francisco 49ers
  • Iowa native and University of Iowa graduate

METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton announced that Trevor Siemian will get the first shot at replacing Jameis Winston as the team’s starting quarterback Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. Taysom Hill is also expected to play a role after returning from a concussion this week.

Siemian, 29, has not been a regular starter in the NFL since he went 13-11 with the Denver Broncos from 2016 to 2017. However, he did start one game with the New York Jets in 2019 and did an impressive job last Sunday of stepping in for an injured Winston during New Orleans’ 36-27 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Siemian entered the game early in the second quarter with the game tied 7-7. He completed 16 of 29 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown with zero turnovers.

Payton and teammates credited Siemian for his calm demeanor and his quick release, among other traits. Payton compared him to former NFL quarterback Ty Detmer — whom he coached earlier in his career.

“I noticed during camp, Trevor’s just cool. He’s super chill. He’s just got like a calming presence,” Saints running back Alvin Kamara said. “That’s how he was when he got in the huddle on Sunday. You would have thought he knew he was playing the whole time. I like him — he’s got a good demeanor.”

“Oh, man, you can definitely tell he’s experienced,” added Saints receiver Tre’Quan Smith. “Honestly, he came in the game and shocked me. He looked very comfortable in the pocket, he stood in the pocket, he took some hits and still delivered the ball. That just amazed me. He definitely looked like he was ready to play, like no hiccups. He was definitely ready to play.”

It’s unclear if this is New Orleans’ plan for the rest of the season — and Siemian’s performance could definitely influence that decision one way or the other.

One factor that could have played a part in the Saints’ decision was that Hill missed the previous three weeks with a concussion that he suffered in Week 5. Hill returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday before practicing fully on Thursday.

Regardless, Hill will likely continue to have a vital role on New Orleans’ offense as a read-option QB/RB/TE/WR.

And no matter who plays quarterback, the Saints (5-2) will continue to lean heavily on a stellar defense, run game, offensive line and coaching staff that has helped them get off to a terrific start this year despite ranking 31st in the NFL in passing yards per game (180.9).

The Saints initially signed Siemian off of the Tennessee Titans’ practice squad last November to add depth following an injury to Drew Brees. He remained with the team this year after Brees retired.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder was drafted by the Broncos in the seventh round out of Northwestern in 2015 and became their starter a year later. He has completed 514 of 870 passes (59.1%) in his career for 5,848 yards and 31 touchdowns with 24 interceptions.

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