For a decade and a half, the New Orleans Saints have done things the same way. All of that changed this year when Sean Payton announced his retirement following the '21 season, after being the Saints' head coach since 2006.
Now, for the first time since '05, we get to take a look at how a different head coach does things in New Orleans. The team released the first depth chart under Dennis Allen this week, marking the first Saints' depth chart beyond of the Sean Payton era.
Dennis Allen, whose served as the defensive coordinator for the Saints since 2015, has big shoes to fill. With camp in full swing, Allen has had a good look at the roster and can plan accordingly.
While most of his first depth chart is exactly how you'd expect, there are still a handful of things that'll catch you by surprise. Those surprises are exactly what we're going to talk about here.
2 biggest surprises from Dennis Allen's first Saints depth chart of 2022
2. Tayson Hill the TE, not QB
It's not that it's particularly surprising a coach put Hill at a pass catcher spot when he's done well as a pass catcher, instead of quarterback where he's thrown 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Instead, the surprise is that Hill accepted this without a fight. After all, even as recent as yesterday, Hill has stated he didn't want this to happen, although he's ok with it because it helps the team.
Saints' Taysom Hill on switch to TE: "This isn't necessarily what I want, it's what's best for the team and I'm good with that"https://t.co/fwXfzJe2rM pic.twitter.com/opyC5XSRlB
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) August 10, 2022
This isn't the mindset we've been used to with Taysom Hill. The Saints' QB-turned-TE has been very adamant about playing quarterback in the National Football League, even threatening to leave the Saints in the past if that wish couldn't be met.
Just two years ago, Hill spoke on how he views himself as a signal caller. “I definitely view myself as a franchise quarterback”, he stated. Soon after, Hill made it clear what his intentions were for the future.
“I want to play quarterback in this league. If New Orleans don’t view me that way, well then I have to leave.”
This also comes one year after Jameis Winston and Hill battled it out for QB1 of the Saints, albeit under a different head coach with a different vision.
What sticks out most with the Saints' tight end when playing quarterback is the 8:8 touchdown interception ratio. The 84.6 career quarterback rating would've ranked 27th in 2021, and his career completion percentage would've ranked 24th. There is one stat that grabs attention, though: Hill has a career record of 7-2 at quarterback.
Pro Football Focus gave Hill a passing grade of 80.1 for his '19 efforts. In 2020, that number decreased to 69.8.
As a pass catcher, Hill has hauled in 34 receptions, crossing the plane 7 times. As a runner, Taysom has rushed for 1,193-yards, producing 16 rushing touchdowns. The 31-year-old is a true gadget player, although he hasn't been a fan of that role in the past.
It seems odd that Hill's mindset would change so drastically over a year, but that's exactly what seems to have happened. For that reason, Hill comes in hot as a surprise on the Saints' first depth chart of 2022.
1. Chris Olave outside of the team's top-3 receivers
To say Olave isn't listed as one of the team's top-3 receivers is an understatement, actually. Currently, Olave finds himself running with the third-team offense.
As of the first depth chart New Orleans released for the '22 season, Olave finds himself behind Pro Bowlers Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry. That isn't surprising. What is surprising, though, is seeing the 22-year-old behind both Tre'Quan Smith and Marquez Callaway as well.
The former Ohio State wideout has had a monster camp. Not only has he produced a play-of-the-day nominee virtually every practice, but Olave has been one of, if not the only receiver on the Saints' roster to best Paulson Adebo.
#Saints 2022 1st round pick WR Chris Olave vs 2021 3rd round pick, CB Paulson Adebo.pic.twitter.com/9wsDK51seR
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 5, 2022
If you've been following the Saints' camp this year, you'll know that feat against Adebo is an impressive one. Adebo has by far been the biggest standout in camp, swatting away at least one pass during each practice.
The Saints expected nothing less from Olave. After all, there's a reason New Orleans used their 11th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to select him.
Throughout his four-years at OSU, the wideout logged 2,702 receiving yards and 35 touchdowns – The latter being a school record. In 2021, Olave was named a first-team All-American.
Saints fans shouldn't worry too much about this development, and neither should fantasy owners who invested in Olave. There's plenty of time until the regular season begins, with this depth chart being the first of many this preseason.
We'll see how things shake up in the near future, but for now, Chris Olave is running with the third-team offense, and that's a big surprise.