The opening salvo in the battle between Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston for the right to be Drew Brees' heir can best be summarized with the Spiderman meme.
In the Saints' 17-14 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Hill and Winston each struggled at times and flashed in others. Hill got off to a hot start before withering. Winston looked shaky before catching fire. It was like watching a quarterbacking palindrome.
Following the defeat, one in which the Saints had six turnovers, head coach Sean Payton wasn't in the mood to talk about the quarterback competition.
"I'm not making any comparisons with the quarterbacks right now," Payton said.
New Orleans allowed three sacks and had 10 penalties in a performance that was frustrating, preseason or not.
"It kind of just overshadows all of it," Payton said.
Hill earned the first start and came out of the gate tossing dimes. His first five passes were all on the mark, including three beauties to wideout Marquez Callaway that went for 10 yards, 28 yards and 23 yards. In the first drive, Hill absorbed pressure, made throws on the move, and looked steady. A Latavius Murry fumble short-circuited the drive, but Hill looked promising.
It fell apart from there. On his second drive, Hill missed a checkdown to Murray by a mile. He then threw an interception on what appeared to be a miscommunication with Ty Montgomery. Hill looked rattled from there, losing accuracy and not appearing to have a rapport with his wideouts. His final play of the game was a sack in which he showed struggles in scrambling, running right into Patrick Queen's arms.
Winston entered, and Devonta Freeman promptly fumbled after a wobbly QB-RB exchange. Winston looked skittish, sporting happy feet early in his dropbacks, and his accuracy was all over the board. Several of his long sideline throws were woefully short.
Finally, nearing the end of the half, Winston woke up, showed improved confidence, and three several bullets down the middle of the field. He hit Montgomery for a 26-yarder, Juwan Johnson for a 33-yarder, and finished off the drive with an 8-yard TD to Lil'Jordan Humphrey in the back of the end zone. It was a quick, impressive drive that showed Winston's ability to push the ball vertically. Per his MO, Winston finished off the half with a YOLO interception that led to a Baltimore field goal to end the second quarter.
The roller coaster was to be expected in the first preseason action in the Saints QB competition.
Neither signal-caller created much separation Saturday, garnering nearly identical stat lines.
Hill completed 8 of 12 for 81 yards, threw an INT, and took one sack. Winston went 7 of 12 for 96 yards, a TD, an INT, and took a sack.
After the ups and downs from both QBs, the job still appears wide open. Payton has two more preseason games to decide who will open as his Week 1 starter. If they play like Saturday, it wouldn't be shocking if Payton plays QB roulette throughout the season until one grabs ahold and doesn't give the coach an excuse to give the other man a shot.