Game-Changing Play of the Week: Taysom Hill Was a Difference Maker After All!

For much of the last week, Packer fans were subjected to unceasing takes over how the team was foolish for cutting Taysom Hill after training camp three years ago. It's an issue much of the Packers beat simply has been unwilling to let go of, despite the fact that Hill's production is nowhere near sufficient for the contract he signed coming into this year, especially given he doesn't have a real position.

Lo and behold, Taysom Hill did end up being a difference maker in the game after all. Just... not in the way his media fanboys might have predicted.

This week's Game-Changing Play of the Week is Hill's fumble, forced and recovered by Za'Darius Smith, in the third quarter.

The play

I've never really understood the fascination with Taysom Hill. Seems to me if you have a Hall of Fame quarterback you trust, you generally don't want to take the ball out of their hands, especially in important situations.

And make no mistake, this was an important situation. Tie ballgame, coming right off a huge momentum swing of a fourth-down stop, in Packer territory and playing against a defense it had been shredding... the stars were aligned for the Saints offense at the start of this drive.

The ensuing fumble changed everything.

Starting from a standing position on the edge, Smith quickly sniffs out the designed run for Hill, and comes crashing down unblocked. Now, how you leave Za'Darius Smith unblocked is a mystery in itself, but Smith is in the backfield in an instant, and the play didn't have a chance.

It's hard to tell if Hill even sees Smith coming; he appears to be focused on the developing blocking in front of him. My guess is Smith's immediate arrival in the backfield came as a surprise, because Hill fails to properly secure the ball. The way it drops, Smith is the only one with a shot at a recovery, and he manages to improve field positioning for the Packers' offense with a short return.

I mentioned at the time that this appeared to be a game-changing play in the moment.

Turns out, it really was, if you're looking at win probability stats.

A 20 percent shift on a single play is a massive deal. While the result was only a field goal for the Packers' offense, it put a quick halt to the momentum surge the Saints got after stopping the Packers on fourth down, got them out of Packer territory, and forced them to once again play from behind.

The Packers' fourth quarter touchdown sealed the deal, but this was the play that really changed the game.

 

I have nothing against Taysom Hill; I think it's fantastic he's found a niche for himself in the Saints' offense, and it's hard not to root for him. But this years-long narrative now that letting go of Hill was some massive mistake by a Packers team that never would have gotten him on the field to begin with is so exhausting, especially when it's perpetuated by Packers beat writers. I have to admit, there was a great deal of schadenfreude in watching the Packers completely eliminate Hill as any sort of tangible threat in the game.

Good win, Pack. 3-0. 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (37)

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CAG123's picture

September 28, 2020 at 04:10 pm

Exactly I been saying Hill found the perfect place and the perfect coach to use him in a variety of ways MM would NEVER think if using him like this. What gets me in this future franchise QB talk like the guy makes 2-4 plays a year barely any of them actually throwing the ball and he’s supposed to be the heir to Brees?! Nah not buying it.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

September 28, 2020 at 05:08 pm

Meh, waste of a roster spot I think. He has a few scores on a few trick plays, but really, wouldn't you rather have depth when they have so many injuries elsewhere. They are paying him a lot of money for very few snaps this season. Last week he had 2 runs for 8 yards and failed to score on fullback dive. Last night he fumbled the ball at a very inopportune time, which may have been the play of the game for GB.

Just don't get the Taysom Hill love.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 28, 2020 at 06:06 pm

They will not pay him next year.

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The_Justicar's picture

September 28, 2020 at 09:24 pm

If they cut him after this year it’s an 11 million dollar dead cap hit. Massive for a player like him and normally a team wouldn’t take that cap hit. Problem is the saints are projected to be like 80 million over the cap so gotta cut a bunch.

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CAG123's picture

September 28, 2020 at 04:10 pm

Exactly I been saying Hill found the perfect place and the perfect coach to use him in a variety of ways MM would NEVER think if using him like this. What gets me in this future franchise QB talk like the guy makes 2-4 plays a year barely any of them actually throwing the ball and he’s supposed to be the heir to Brees?! Nah not buying it.

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Bearmeat's picture

September 29, 2020 at 07:37 am

There are lots of things I rue about the latter TT/MM/AR Packers.

1. 2014. Nuff said.
2. The end of 2013.
3. Letting Hyde go
4. Letting Hayward go.
5. Not drafting TJ Watt
6. Signing Jimmy Graham
7. How many bloody coin flips we lost in playoff overtime.
8. Losing Nick Collins
9. Keeping Dom Capers after 2011
10. Moving on 3 years too early from CWood.
11. CM3 falling off a cliff after signing his big deal.
12. Jordy's ACL.
13. Our perennially putrid special teams.
14. Lacy deciding to get phat.

Those are just off the top of my head. There are more, I"m sure.

Letting Taysom Hill go is NOT one of the mistakes TT made.

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NickPerry's picture

September 29, 2020 at 05:40 am

IMO the PERFECT list BM!

Well said.

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BBlake's picture

September 28, 2020 at 04:19 pm

Not to mention the fact that Hill is counting $5 million against the cap this year and would have $16 million in dead cap money if the Saints cut him.

Thanks for the fumble Taysom.

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splitpea1's picture

September 28, 2020 at 04:46 pm

The money notwithstanding, Hill has still been a useful player for the Saints in a variety of ways: as a decoy, special teams, and two-point conversions. Payton just seems to get carried away with him sometimes, and I would agree that the ball should rarely be taken away from Brees.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

September 28, 2020 at 05:12 pm

When you have maybe the best RB and best WR in football, why do you need a gadget player? He takes up a roster spot that could be depth elsewhere in a year of lots of injuries. He's not doing much this year. In the loss to the Raiders he did next to nothing. Last night was worse.

From rotowire: "Hill carried twice for six yards and brought in his only target for one yard in the Saints' 37-30 loss to the Packers on Sunday.

ANALYSIS
He also lost a fumble. Hill's 2019 career year seems a distant memory, as he's now totaled just 10 touches through the first three weeks of the season. With Alvin Kamara and Drew Brees both in full health this season, Hill's roles as a receiver and option quarterback have shrunk considerably."

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splitpea1's picture

September 28, 2020 at 06:05 pm

Why is a gadget player useful? How about special teams? Since it's almost a generational event whenever the Packers do anything out of the ordinary on special teams, this probably isn't a good home for Hill, anyway.

Hill also made quite a few contributions during the 2018 season for the Saints.

As far as that analysis goes, we're only talking three games, and whoever authored it must have a pretty fuzzy memory if 2019 is considered "distant".

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egbertsouse's picture

September 28, 2020 at 04:47 pm

Before all you revisionists let good OL’ Uncle Ted off the hook for cutting Taysom Hill, remember, the old doofus cut him so he could keep future HOFer Brett “Gumby” Hundley. Yup, genius move all right.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

September 28, 2020 at 05:19 pm

Ted was never "on the hook" for cutting the forgettable Taysome Hill. You're only benefitting from hindsight. Brett Hundley has not had an awful career for a freaking 5th round pick. And he's still in the league. Keeping an UDFA over a guy that could not stay healthy in college at the most protected position on the field make zero sense to me. He's a gadget player that barely plays and he's already 30 years old. Hill simply could not get through a season without injury.

It's fine to recognize mistakes made by Ted, but this is a truly poor argument.

Meanwhile GB is going to struggle to sign all the great players "genius" Ted DID draft and keep:

A 4th lineman who became the best LT in the league
A 5th round lineman who became one of the most solid centers in the league
A 5th round RB who is one of the most products offensive players in the league
Another 5th back who is complimentary and productive in the passing game
A first round CB who teams are avoiding throwing towards

So Ted apparently did have some genius.

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11Bravo1p's picture

September 28, 2020 at 07:22 pm

And he traded the player he kept (Huntley) for a 6th round pick the next year.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 30, 2020 at 08:25 pm

Gutekunst traded him,not Ted.

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splitpea1's picture

September 28, 2020 at 08:41 pm

It's too bad Ted's genius didn't always translate into solid defensive picks during the second half of his tenure; a few gems of the first four rounds: Jerel Worthy, Datone Jones, Khyri Thornton, Carl Bradford, D. Randall, Q. Rollins, Jake Ryan, Josh Jones, M. Adams, and Vince Biegel.

And not to nitpick, but that first round CB was actually a second rounder; Ted traded down, bypassing future two-time (so far) Pro Bowler T. J. Watt, but netting the forgettable Biegel in the fourth round.

Gee, I wonder why it's been 9 seasons since we've been to a Super Bowl? You can't strike out on so many high picks!

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murf7777's picture

September 28, 2020 at 09:02 pm

And how many teams have won a SB in the last ten years? I thought so...it’s easy to be critical, but 30 other teams would love our success. Every team make draft mistakes but our record proves our overall success.

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splitpea1's picture

September 29, 2020 at 12:06 am

How many teams have won a Super Bowl in the last NINE seasons? Could it be NINE? Are the Packers one of them? I thought so, Einstein...."our record proves our overall success..." Not too concerned about getting to or winning the Super Bowl, are you? Everything is great as long as we make the playoffs! Three Super Bowl appearances despite having two top-tier HOF QBS at the helm for nearly 30 years; nothing to be critical of here, is there? "Every team makes draft mistakes...." The Packers' litany of mistakes of the defensive side of the ball is why we only have one Trophy during the Rodgers era; but Trophies aren't important to "overall success" are they?

Don't come at me with all this apologist nonsense-- I'll trade your "overall success" for a fresh Trophy any day.

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11Bravo1p's picture

September 28, 2020 at 10:17 pm

In the last 25 years, only 2 teams (Denver, NE) have won more Super Bowls than the Packers. In the last 10 years, only 1 team (NE) has won more Super Bowls than the Packers

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splitpea1's picture

September 28, 2020 at 11:49 pm

Your point? You're just fiddling around with the number of years to fit your argument. If you go back 15 years, you can include the Steelers and Giants; 30 years, Dallas.

Why can't you apologists just admit that the Packers, while being exceptionally competent at finding offensive talent, could use some outside expertise, or at least a better evaluation process, when it comes to selecting their defensive counterparts? You'll notice all the teams I just mentioned had pretty stellar defenses that had multiple HOFers or probable ones on it.

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11Bravo1p's picture

September 28, 2020 at 10:43 pm

A simple statement of fact, the Packers have played very well during the the last 25 years, and during the last 10 years.

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splitpea1's picture

September 28, 2020 at 11:07 pm

Yes they have, but the opportunity was/is there to accomplish greater things if only more care, diligence, or whatever you want to call it, was given to the defensive side of the ball. Lost opportunity might not be as bad as outright losses, but it still hurts.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

September 29, 2020 at 03:53 am

The fact is that "the old doofus' TT has had a more successful career and life than egbert and splitpea could ever dream of having. TT built a Super Bowl winner and drafted the best QB ever, while egbert/splitpea (probably the same person) languishes in his single-wide trailer.

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splitpea1's picture

September 29, 2020 at 07:23 am

Hello dumb ass: This your first comment at Cheesehead TV, and you already know who everybody is and isn't, and all about their careers and lives and how they compare to others? Maybe you should clean out the confetti between your ears before you shoot your big mouth off.

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HighPlainsDrifter's picture

September 29, 2020 at 10:19 am

I know exactly who and what you are egbert/splitpea. You're a low intelligence guy who has to resort to juvenile name calling and vulgarity to try to make a point.

Feel free to list your accomplishments that are more successful than TT's. Oh, that's right, you don't have any.

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splitpea1's picture

September 29, 2020 at 10:53 am

Yes, Dumb Ass, I'm going to divulge the details of my personal life to some douchebag stranger on the Internet who doesn't know what he's talking about, hasn't figured out that success means different things to different people, and gets annoyed when responded to in kind with personal assaults. Get lost, loser.

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jannes bjornson's picture

September 30, 2020 at 08:28 pm

Participation trophy or Lombardi? You make the call.

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

September 29, 2020 at 10:54 am

Try looking at Belichick's drafts. He's had some godawful drafts, just wasted pick after wasted pick. And why is Schneider alway signing free agents in SEA? Because they have had some awful drafts since the days they had Scot McCloughan as a personnel exec and found Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, and Russell Wilson. And how about the Vikings? They have some good picks recently, but many, many have flamed out. Nobody gets it right all the time. Ted did it as well as anyone for a long time.

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splitpea1's picture

September 29, 2020 at 11:40 am

Nobody's saying Ted didn't do a great job during the first half of his tenure. It's the defensive picks in the second half (I listed ten busts in the first four rounds during a six-year period--TEN!) that have left us hurting on that side of the ball for some time.

Hank Scorpio (he commented in this article) pointed out a while back that losing both Schneider and Dorsey was really a blow to the Packers' organization and have been difficult to replace; I think he's 100% correct in his assessment.

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HankScorpio's picture

September 28, 2020 at 05:21 pm

Sounds like he cut one bad QB to keep a different bad QB. And the result is that the player he cut handed the Packers a win yesterday. Thanks, Ted!

So where is the hook you speak of?

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TheVOR's picture

September 28, 2020 at 04:48 pm

I was beyond excited for that play Z-Dog made.. Huge PLAY, HUGE!! And the fact that the team was ready for Gadget man made it all the more sweet!

I said to my bride, there you go, take the ball out of the hands of a HOF QB, run a Gadget Play, and it finally Bit Them Square in the @$$. I was beyond elated! That was a turning point of the game IMO... We failed on the forth down, they were ready to drive down and take a lead, I just can't say enough. What a fun satisfying football game to watch!!

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murf7777's picture

September 28, 2020 at 09:04 pm

I agree, when I saw Hill come in it made me smile even before I knew what happened.

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oceanstrength's picture

September 28, 2020 at 05:00 pm

Nice zingers Tim for the talking heads to think about. Other false narratives in last two years. Rodgers wont get along with LaFluer, Love was a terrible pick because Rodgers is madder than hell, and the Packers dont deserve him and are trying to drive him out town. And they wonder why we call it fake news.!

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WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

September 28, 2020 at 05:20 pm

How about GB leading the league in offensive production despite NOT DRAFTING A WR.

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CAG123's picture

September 28, 2020 at 05:30 pm

Exactly I been saying Hill found the perfect place and the perfect coach to use him in a variety of ways MM would NEVER think if using him like this. What gets me in this future franchise QB talk like the guy makes 2-4 plays a year barely any of them actually throwing the ball and he’s supposed to be the heir to Brees?! Nah not buying it.

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murf7777's picture

September 28, 2020 at 09:10 pm

Mlf would thou, the man is creative, aggressive, smart, good game manager and I’m excited about the Packers future with him at the helm. I was a MM supporter because I love consistency, but MLF and Rodgers seem to be insync and that’s exciting to watch.

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Since'61's picture

September 29, 2020 at 09:37 am

I never lamented or regretted cutting Hill. To me he was just one among many of our annual pre-season MVPs. His role as a gadget player for the Saints has been totally over rated and over paid. That was proven on Sunday evening even before he fumbled the game away. That is a matter of Sean Peyton outsmarting himself and evidence of declining faith in Drew Brees.
It’s obvious that Brees cannot throw the deep pass effectively any longer. Kamara is the only player they have that gives their offense any scoring potential. I suspect that as the Saints play against better tackling and more talented defenses than the Packers they will be shut down. Although good defenses are becoming few and far between in the NFL.
As for Hill, he is not good enough to a backup QB, so I don’t see why the Saints have over committed to him financially. But he’s their problem. We moved on a while ago and for the better.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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