Falcons preparing a master plan for Taysom Hill

Credit: AJC

Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris discusses the plan to stop Saints’ gadget quarterback Taysom Hill in the rematch.

The Falcons went to their respective laboratories to conjure up a plan to stop Saints quarterback Taysom Hill on Sunday.

Before facing the Saints on Nov. 22, the Falcons were not sure if they were facing the athletic Hill or Jameis Winston as the replacement for the legendary Drew Brees.

Hill started and guided the Saints to a 24-9 victory.

In the NFC South rematch, the Falcons (4-7) are set to host Hill and the Saints (9-2) at 1 p.m. Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“This time, going in we’ll prepare for Taysom,” Falcons interim coach Raheem Morris said. “He’s played two games now. He’s done really well. He’s 2-0 as a starter. He’s done a good job going out there and executing their offense.”

In the win over the Falcons, Hill completed 18 of 23 passes for 233 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. He finished with a passer rating of 108.9. Hill also rushed 10 times for 49 yards and two touchdowns.

“He did enough good things in that game,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “Made good decisions. Made some plays with his feet.”

On Sunday, in a 31-3 win over Denver, who was playing without four of its quarterbacks, Hill completed 9 of 16 passes for 78 yards and an interception. He finished with a passer rating of 43.2. Hill rushed 10 times for 44 yards and two touchdowns.

“Last week was uniquely different just relative to the type of game we played,” Payton said. “More than anything else, I ran it more. Played it much more closer to the vest because of the situation with Denver’s offense. So, two entirely different types of games, but nonetheless we’ve been able to win both of those.”

Overall, the Saints have been pleased with Hill’s play.

“I think he’s done well,” Payton said. “His first job is to win. Move the team. He probably had more opportunities in the first game than last week.”

Before Brees’ injury, which include fractured ribs and a collapsed lung, Hill had played several positions. It was his first start at quarterback.

“When they beat us, he was able to dictate the terms,” Morris said. “He was able to do the same thing ... against the Broncos. We have to go out and try to change the narrative, do those things that feel good for us. The coaching staff we were able to game plan for it. We feel good about it, and we’re moving forward.”

The Falcons plan to account for Hill’s runs, much as they used to against former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

“When a quarterback runs the ball, let’s say like when Cam Newton used to run quarterback power and they’d use an extra fullback or blocker in the box,” linebacker Foye Oluokun said. “So, you’ve accounted for all of the gaps, but when you have the quarterback running instead of the running back, they have an extra blocker.”

The Falcons have a plan.

“It’s really on us to make sure that we secure the gaps, get off the blocks and get to the ball in multitudes instead of just one person,” Oluokun said. “That’s really the run game against the quarterback.”

In the passing attack, Hill has locked in on wide receiver Michael Thomas. He caught nine of 12 targeted passes for 104 yards against the Falcons. He had a team-high six targets and four catches for 50 yards against the Broncos.

“He absolutely knows how to win when the ball is in the air and it’s going to him,” Morris said. “Taysom has found a nice little comfort zone with him, and we have to find a way to stop that.”

Hill was able to connect on wobbly looking passes down the field against the Falcons.

“On passes, he’s going to extend the play,” Oluokun said. “When he crosses the line of scrimmage, you have to treat him like a running back because he likes to lower his shoulder and jump over people as you saw in a different game. We just have to get more people to the ball when he does that.”

Hill’s swiss-army-knife skill set makes defending him a headache.

“He has the ability to be a running quarterback,” Morris said. “He has the ability to play the quarterback position like we know it. But he can do all of the different things. We’ve seen him go and throw the ball the last time. He threw the ball pretty well.

“He did a couple different things against us that way. He’s also able to use his feet. You just have to be prepared for what Taysom Hill does very well and be able to stop those things in order to be able to dictate terms. Let’s try to make him one-dimensional like you do with most quarterbacks. If we can do those things, we’ll have a chance to win.”

Oluokun didn’t notice much difference in the two games that Hill has started.

“It was basically the same type of game that they played against us that they played against the Broncos,” Oluokun said. “Now that we see what plays they will for sure run, I think we’ll kind of recognize formations and try to make the plays that are in front of us.”

Credit: AJC

Falcons’ next four games

Saints at Falcons at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6

Falcons at Chargers at 4:25 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 13

Buccaneers at Falcons at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 20

Falcons at Chiefs at 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 27

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