The key has been when he’s utilized. Payton often brings Hill in at quarterback in the most high-leverage situations that occur throughout a football game. Of his 35 snaps at quarterback, 24 have either come on third or fourth down or in the red zone. Options are tremendous in short yardage situations because it forces unblocked defenders to freeze for a split second to figure out who has the ball instead of attacking into the backfield.
On a 3rd and 2, the unblocked defender tasked with bringing the quarterback down is standing still at the line of scrimmage as Hill pulls the ball down. All Hill needs to do is barrel straight ahead, and he’s undoubtedly going to fall forward for the first down. Plays like that are the most volatile situations for Expected Points Added (EPA is a way of measuring play success based on down/distance/field position) and having someone to execute them successfully is enormous.
With Hill lined up at quarterback, the Saints have averaged 0.237 EPA per run (32 runs) and 0.517 EPA per pass (three passes). The league-wide EPA per run play is -0.09 EPA for runs and 0.05 for passes. Even an offense as explosive as the Saints has only averaged -0.01 EPA per run and 0.36 on pass plays. Put simply; Hill has been a cheat code for the Saints when they’ve needed it most.
Renner’s piece does a great job spotlighting Hill’s effectiveness, how his usage differs from a more-traditional wildcat package, and why it may be tough for defenses to ever figure out how to stop him. It’s also got a great positional breakdown of where the Saints are lining up Hill, and how often. Be sure to check it out.