Bridgewater or Hill: Who’s No. 2 behind Brees?

By Ed Daniels, Clarion Herald Sports

If you are wondering why Taysom Hill – instead of Teddy Bridgewater – is not the backup to Drew Brees, here’s some perspective.

Three hours before the Saints kicked off against the Chargers in California, Father Mike Kettenring at St. Philip Neri Church in Metairie summed up the preseason in most appropriate fashion. Father Mike usually ends his Mass with a cheer of “Go, Saints!”

On this Sunday, he passed. A man of the cloth could not be disingenuous when it comes to the irrelevance of the preseason. No regular season, no cheer. Good for him.

Four-plus hours later, in the second half against the Chargers’ second- and third-teamers, Hill looked terrific. He threw for 136 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 53 yards more.

In the first half, Bridgewater struggled. However, he played well, 14-of-19 passing, in Week 1 against the Vikings.

So, if Brees is unavailable for any games this season, who gets the quarterback job? Is it Hill, who has thrown seven passes in his NFL career, or is it Bridgewater, who has completed 565 passes, 29 for touchdowns? Of course, the job goes to Bridgewater, who was given a guaranteed contract to remain a Saint for one more year.

But what will the Saints do when Brees eventually walks away? My guess is that neither Bridgewater nor Hill will be Brees’ replacement.

If Brees returns for 2020, Bridgewater has to leave to try to become a starter elsewhere. Hill would be an intriguing gamble. But, do you turn the keys to the car over to a quarterback who is a terrific athlete but has to prove he can consistently read defenses and deliver the football accurately?

Those two traits – anticipation and accuracy – have made Brees a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

It is likely that the Saints will find Brees’ replacement in the draft. Of the 12 teams who made the playoffs in 2018, only one team started a quarterback not originally drafted by that franchise. That would be the quarterback of the Saints.

The 2020 class could potentially have three quarterbacks selected in the top 10, maybe the top five. They are Tua Tagavailoa of Alabama, Justin Herbert of Oregon and Jake Fromm of Georgia.

Do the Saints, with a talented nucleus of young players, mortgage the future and move up to take a quarterback? They have to consider it.

Since 2004 in San Diego, Brees has started at least 15 games every season. So, a debate about who is Brees’ backup would seem to be a waste of time.

It is Bridgewater, of course. In the meantime, don’t read too much into the preseason. Last Sunday, a man of the cloth told me so, and that is good enough for me.

Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at edaniels@clarionherald.org.

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