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What is the Saints' ceiling without Jameis Winston?

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Charles Robinson & Frank Schwab discuss the season-ending knee injury to Saints QB Jameis Winston. At 5-2, they are firmly in the playoff race, but can they maintain their winning record with Taysom Hill or another option at QB?

Hear the full conversation on You Pod to Win the Game. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen.

Video Transcript

- The big story coming out of here is, the Saints lose Jameis Winston. Trevor Siemian comes in, he plays OK. I mean, he did what he had to do, he did his job. They end up getting the win. Brady throws a Pick 6 at the end. It sounds like Jameis has a torn ACL, they'll confirm that tomorrow, but usually they're-- usually they're right when they say that. So, what's next for the Saints?

CHARLES ROBINSON: Well, Taysom Hill is going to be back next week. I don't know-- I mean, I don't know if that's been reported or not, but I spoke to somebody tonight who told me Taysom is going to be back in next week. So, there's a decision there, like, is Taysom your quarterback now? I would assume the thought process there is, OK, Taysom comes back next week. He's our-- he's our starting quarterback. If not, why did you sign him to the deal to play in this position? So, get ready for Taysom Hill to step back in. In terms of filling out the depth of the team, I don't know, I mean, I guess it depends how they feel about Trevor Siemian. Obviously, was a guy who had a very short starting stint in Denver, um, has looked more like what he was to me, personally, I think he's looked more like what he is, a patchwork, you know, backup quarterback, and come in and, you know, pressed into action briefly, can help you win a game.

Do you have the belief in Taysom Hill or not, Sean Payton, which, from everything I've ever been told, all the reporting I've ever done, and I have sources inside that organization, Sean does have, or at least did, prior to this season, have a belief in Taysom Hill. Now I think, there was an element to what Jameis, of-- having two for two on the field. Like you can-- if, if you're completely focused on Taysom as a quarterback and he starts, Jameis never gets on the field for you, unless you just like, do a weird rotation thing. This put him in a position where, I think they thought there was something there to develop with Jameis, so you keep Taysom where he was. And if, and then, hey, in a break the glass moment, if Jameis is terrible and you got to bench him, or if there's an injury, we have Taysom, we're ready to go with him. OK, well here we are.

FRANK SCHWAB: Let's just say, this 5-2 Saints team, goes with Taysom Hill the rest of the way, what's your ceiling? We've seen Taysom play full-time quarterback before, the Kendall Hinton game, in that time he was their starter. And they've done OK, it's a totally different offense. But Sean Payton, I mean, of all the coaches in the NFL, he's one of the few you just trust. Hey, whatever you got to work with, you're going to make the best of it like you did with Trevor Siemian today. What's it-- what's the Saints ceiling with-- with Taysom Hill's their quarterback the rest of the way.

CHARLES ROBINSON: Two things I want to know. Number 1, is Michael Thomas back in the fold and serviceable, you know, like, does he come back in and give that offense, pop, you know, we'll see. That I think is important, well maybe three. So that's one, two, I would like to know how Mark Ingram kind of works into, you know, I mean maybe Mark Ingram still has the ability to be that great second punch to Alvin Kamara. And I really do think that has the ability to give that offense more traction with Taysom, obviously, if you've got two serviceable running backs. Well, one great running back, one very serviceable one, that kind of do different things for you, can handle different packages.

And then I think, look, if the defense plays, there are times-- Tom Brady will make mistakes if you hit him. Tom Brady will make mistakes if you sack him because he does not like that, well you know what, they got to him a little bit today. And I think if the defense, which has a lot of talent on it, and we knew coming into the season like, hey, they've got a chance to be a pretty good defense. They have the talent, they've struggled at times, they've been really good at times. I think if they can settle down and be a quality defense and live up to the talent, and do things like it did today, and, you know, get to Tom Brady or, you know, whatever quarterback you're-- you're you're facing, I think that is something that tilts in their favor. But, I think what you--

FRANK SCHWAB: Could it win the South? Like, right now, they just beat Tampa Bay and they're tied in the loss column. Can they win the South?

CHARLES ROBINSON: What is, I'll say, look, of those three things, if any one of those fails, if the running-- if the running game doesn't take over as being a dominant part of the offense. If Michael Thomas, or, if Michael Thomas comes in and fizzles, or if the defense doesn't live up to it, it means you live and die with Taysom. And you'd probably live and die with him anyway. Look, however he plays functionally, moving forward, is probably what you're going to be able to do, unless that running game becomes such a dominant part of-- and he can also be a part of that. Unless that all becomes a dominant part of your offense, then you're just going to have to figure out, can Taysom be a good enough passing quarterback to keep teams honest.

And, look let's be real, like they're 5-2, it's not like Jameis was tearing it up. He had moments, but he also had stretches during the season where he wasn't very good, you know. Where they were winning without him having to put up numbers and throw deep and do all these different things. So, but I'll tell you what, it's pretty-- this is one of those teams that, early on when things were going rough for certain franchises, we were like, no they can, you know, maybe they can turn around like Tennessee. Maybe they can turn around, well they did, they have, they've held it together. This is a pretty big, it's a pretty big change all of a sudden.

FRANK SCHWAB: I'll say this, I mean, this is setting up for Sean Payton to win coach of the year. I mean, it really is, like if they make the playoffs. Like, basically two absolutely different quarterbacks without Michael Thomas most of the year. With Alvin Kamara, just a rotation of, dude, like just guys like, their offensive skill positions. I'm just really impressed with the Saints and what Payton's been able to do.