Saints coach Sean Payton planning to build offense 'a little bit' around QB who wins starting gig

Even with the Saints not conducting traditional practices during this portion of the offseason schedule, the battle between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill to replace future Hall of Famer Drew Brees remains the biggest storyline emanating from New Orleans.

The difference between the two quarterbacks is stark. Winston is a pocket passer with a big arm. Hill is the mobile signal-caller who would run more read-options and QB keepers, given his athletic prowess.

Saints coach Sean Payton noted that while he'll tweak the offense for whichever QB wins the starting gig, the basis of the scheme won't change.

"We'll build it a little bit around that player accordingly. That's something that we did when Drew first arrived here and that we would do with either of these two players," Payton said Tuesday, via ESPN's Mike Triplett.

Payton's comment suggests the crux of the offense used for 15 years under Brees will be the foundation for 2021, instead of scrapping the entire operation -- say if the mobile Hill won the job, which would mean more QB runs, or the big-armed Winston wins, which would entail more downfield throws.

Last season, when Brees was injured against the San Francisco 49ers, Winston entered the contest, in part, because he was better able to run the scheme installed with Brees that week. When Hill took over as the starter the next four weeks, Payton adjusted the game plan to account for a more mobile QB. In his four starts, Hill rushed for 209 yards on 39 attempts with four touchdowns.

We'll likely see a similar plan from Payton this offseason, on a much larger scale, depending on who wins the job.

"There's certain things that you might do just specific to one or the other. And yet there's still an overall philosophical approach that these guys will have learned to play offense," Payton said. "It's not a whole different game plan for each one of them."

The Saints haven't been conducting traditional offseason practice sessions this season, which has paused most of the QB competition until training camp kicks off in late July. At that time, we'll see which tweaks to the offense Payton plans for each of the vastly different QBs.

With Winston and Hill both scheduled to be free agents after this season, it could be a one-year adjustment for Payton's offense regardless of who wins the job for 2021, as the Saints search for the long-term replacement for Brees.

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