The New Orleans Saints are expected to start 2021 NFL Draft pick Ian Book at quarterback against the Miami Dolphins Sunday after Taysom Hill became the NFL’s latest big-name player to contract COVID-19. Hill’s backup, Trevor Siemian, has also reportedly tested positive. That leaves the Saints with just Book — whose next NFL snap will be his first — on their 53-man or practice squad rosters.
Saints QB Ian Book to start Monday night vs. Dolphins
The string of positive tests couldn’t come at a worse time for the Saints (7-7). They had just crawled back into the NFC playoff race with wins over the Jets and Buccaneers following a five-game losing streak fueled by terrible quarterback play.
Book will be the fourth Saints quarterback to take snaps this year. Jameis Winston began the season as New Orleans’ starter, but a torn ACL in early November ended his season. Not surprisingly, the Saints as a team are 24th in passer rating (86.6). There’s no reason to believe that will improve in Book’s first NFL start against one of the league’s best pass defenses.
Miami Dolphins’ latest lucky break
We’d be remiss if we didn’t begin this portion of this item by giving the Dolphins their rightful due. They have saved their season with an impressive six-game winning streak, winning those contests by an average of 13 points.
You don’t do that by luck alone. Pro Bowler Xavien Howard and the defense have been spectacular.
Tua Tagovailoa has been largely efficient. The offensive line is improved. The running game is churning too. But luck certainly helps, and they’ve had some good fortune during that run.
The six teams that Miami has beaten are a combined 32 games under .500. The Saints, with a healthy Hill and their excellent defense, probably would have been the toughest opponent they’ve faced over that stretch. But that’s seemingly out the window now.
Book is the latest opposing QB for the Dolphins to capitalize on
Hill’s roster designation means the quarterbacks the Dolphins will have faced in November and December are the following: Tyrod Taylor, a diminished Lamar Jackson, a much-diminished Joe Flacco, a very-much diminished Cam Newton, P.J. Walker, Giants backup Mike Glennon, Zach Wilson (who’s last in the NFL in QBR), and now Book.
Of course, Miami still needed to beat the teams on their schedule to get back to .500, but the quarterbacks they have faced have increased their margin for error. Despite playing their B (and even C) game, they have won games.
So if the Dolphins somehow do the seemingly impossible — make the playoffs after a 1-7 start –, no one can argue that fortune will have played a role.