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Opinion: Drew Brees’ injuries leave Saints with QB decision that could define season — and beyond



After learning that quarterback Drew Brees could miss extended time with injuries that, according to multiple reports, include multiple rib fractures and a collapsed lung, the New Orleans Saints now find themselves faced with an intriguing decision while preparing to host the NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill?

That’s the question coach Sean Payton must decide. The outcome of the decision could dramatically shape the franchise both for the short and long term.

Payton on Monday afternoon declined to confirm an ESPN report on Brees’ status and also refused to name a starter.

However, by Wednesday when the Saints return to the practice field, players likely will have learned the direction their team is headed in the interim. 

Winston, the 2015 No. 1 overall pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, signed with New Orleans this offseason in search of further development and redemption following the end of his five-year run as a starter.

Hill, an undrafted fourth-year pro, has distinguished himself as an impactful utility player for New Orleans, lining up at quarterback, tight end, fullback and wide receiver while also playing on special teams.

It marks a second straight year the Saints have found themselves in this predicament. Last season, when a torn thumb ligament in Brees’ throwing hand sidelined him for five games, Payton turned to backup Teddy Bridgewater over Hill, who served as a fixture on offense through his wide range of positions. Bridgewater rewarded the coach by going 5-0 as a starter. 

With Bridgewater having moved on to become the Carolina Panthers’ starter, whichever quarterback Payton chooses this year will try to extend the team’s six-game winning streak and help the 7-2 Saints overtake the Green Bay Packers for the top spot in the NFC.

Both quarterbacks offer different elements.

Winston possesses greater experience having started 70 games for his career. The former Heisman Trophy winner and 2015 Pro Bowl pick also is the more decorated of the two. Blessed with a big arm, Winston last season surpassed the 5,000-yard mark, something only six other quarterbacks have ever done (Brees has done it five times), and recorded 33 touchdown passes. 

As he demonstrated Sunday when he directed three scoring drives (two field goals and an Alvin Kamara touchdown), Winston gives the Saints the ability to execute an offense that resembles a Brees-led attack. Saints coaches simplify what they ask of the quarterback, but they wouldn’t have to overhaul the playbook to position him for success. Starting Winston also enables the Saints to continue to use Hill as the change-of-pace weapon to throw opponents off.

Going to Winston against San Francisco made sense because he had worked behind Brees all week and attended all of the quarterback meetings while Hill bounced from one position group meeting to another in preparation for his usual slash role. Turning to the multi-purpose threat as quarterback would have meant scrapping a chunk of New Orleans’ game plan for the 49ers.

Hill would bring another dimension to the position. The BYU product averages 5.5 yards per carry and, with his capability to execute run-pass option plays, would pose a threat of unpredictability.

However, Hill is a far less accomplished passer, having completed only 10 of 18 passes for his careerwith no touchdown passes and one interception to his name.

With Hill as his starter, Payton likely would have to more drastically change the way the Saints attack, which could prove disruptive. 

The mark against Winston involves his history of poor decision-making. In his final season in Tampa, he threw 30 interceptions — the most by any player in a single season since 1988 — including an NFL record six returned for touchdowns.

Winston chose a backup role with the Saints over a chance to compete as a starter in 2020 because he believed Payton’s expertise with quarterbacks could help him reach his maximum potential. He likened that tutelage to a Harvard education.

But is half of a season enough to transform him into a more disciplined passer? 

It was only a half of football, but Winston certainly seemed more conservative in his approach on Sunday. He completed six of 10 passes for 63 yards without any turnovers .

A move to Winston seems like the no-brainer given his experience and more expansive passing skill set. And many around the league expect the coach to settle on Winston for this week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons.

But the Saints’ fondness for Hill creates some mystique, or at least the illusion of a debate. This offseason, the team signed him to a two-year, $21 million contract that features $16 million in guaranteed money. In 2021, Hill will make more than a handful of top quarterbacks still on their rookie contracts.

Winston, meanwhile, is earning just $1.1 million for this season.

As mentioned, Payton’s decision could help shape the future of the Saints’ quarterback position.

This could be the 41-year-old Brees’ last year, so this midseason stretch in his absence could serve as an audition for 2021 and speak to how New Orleans views Winston and Hill. 

A nod to Hill seemingly would suggest that Payton views him as the quarterback of the future and that the coach would be comfortable having him shed his utility role after this season. 

Turning to Winston could indicate that, in addition to believing the former Florida State product gives him the best chance to win now, Payton also wants to evaluate him extensively as a potential long-term replacement for Brees.

That’s not for certain, however. Bridgewater’s five-game stint last season wound up serving as a showcase for the rest of the league rather than New Orleans.

Either way, it all boils down to this: for however long Brees’ injuries sideline him, his replacement will receive a golden opportunity. The next man up will receive the chance to play for one of the game’s best play-callers while surrounded by one of the league’s top supporting casts. He will have the chance to contribute to a playoff run. And the quarterback selected also will receive the chance to solidify his future role.

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Freddy Rincón: Former Colombia captain in critical condition with severe head injuries after car crash



Former Colombia soccer captain Freddy Rincón is in critical condition with severe head injuries after being involved in a car crash in Cali, the hospital treating him said in a statement.

The 55-year-old Rincón was admitted to hospital on Monday following a car accident in the early hours of the day, CNN en Español reported, citing local media.
The accident involved a van with four occupants, including the former player, and a bus, the Undersecretary of Mobility of Cali, Edwing Candelo, told the newspaper, El País Cali.
Five people were injured in the crash, added Candelo.
Rincón underwent surgery which lasted nearly three hours, the Imbanaco Clinic said in a statement later Monday, adding that he has been transferred to intensive care, where he remains in critical condition.

World Cup glory

Rincón played in three World Cups — 1990, 1994 and 1998 — and scored 17 goals in 84 games for Colombia.
He was born in 1966 in Buenaventura, in western Colombia, and was one of the key players of his country’s golden generation in the 1990s.
Notably, he scored against West Germany at the 1990 World Cup in Milan’s San Siro stadium, his goal coming late in the game to secure a 1-1 draw giving Colombia a place in the round-of-16 after the country’s 28-year absence from the tournament.
Rincón also scored two goals in a famed 5-0 win against Argentina in Buenos Aires in 1993.
In Colombia, he played for Santa Fe and América de Cali, with whom he won three trophies.
In 1994, Rincón joined Brazilian club Palmeiras, before then moving to Europe. He played for Italian club Napoli and then joined Spanish giant Real Madrid, becoming the first Colombian footballer to play for the La Liga club.
Rincón returned to Brazil in 1996, where he won three local titles and a Club World Cup with Corinthians.
He retired as a player in 2004 and later coached third division teams in Brazil. He was an assistant to former Brazil coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo at Atlético Mineiro in 2010 and to Jorge Luis Pinto at Millonarios de Colombia in 2019.

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Fantasy Premier League tips gameweek 19: Cristiano Ronaldo, Son Heung-min, Bukayo Saka and more



Cristiano Ronaldo

The news of Liverpool vs Leeds’ postponement leaves a lot of managers in the lurch. Most of us have at least three players who will not be playing on Boxing Day, with captaincy favourite Mohamed Salah one of them. Where do we turn with our most reliable points-scorer suddenly wiped out?

It requires a bit of restructuring and probably a -4 hit but moving to Ronaldo, who travels to Newcastle, may not be a bad idea. Though Salah could return quickly against Leicester and Chelsea, the Africa Cup of Nations is fast approaching and Manchester United’s fixtures are strong, with an expected double gameweek on the horizon.

Son Heung-min

A more straightforward move is Salah to Son. Many managers could do it with their weekly free transfer and there is good reason to back the Tottenham winger, who scored against Liverpool last time out and has an enticing run of fixtures coming up and a likely double in gameweek 22.

Crystal Palace’s defensive numbers are still among the more impressive this season but are stronger at home than away and have faltered slightly of late, while Tottenham’s attack is gradually picking up under Antonio Conte. After the visit from Patrick Vieira’s side, Spurs face back-to-back trips to Southampton and Watford.

Bukayo Saka

After three consecutive impressive wins, Arsenal assets are all the rage this week, with heavy investment in the band of young, exciting attacking players at Mikel Arteta’s disposal. Gabriel Martinelli was a late call-up to our picks last time around and duly delivered, while Emile Smith Rowe keeps on scoring even as a substitute.

If we had to pick one for this weekend’s trip to Norwich though, it would still be Saka. He has a better chance of starting long-term than Martinelli and he has more impressive underlying numbers than Smith Rowe. In fact, those numbers have gradually ticked up after a slow start to the season, with an average of 0.6 non-penalty xG+xA over the last six games.

Kieran Tierney

While Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe are all popular picks this week, one thing to look out for is an unusual split coming up in Arsenal’s fixtures, where their schedule is a lot better from a defensive perspective than an attacking one.

With that in mind, 4.8m-rated Tierney offers a slightly more adventurous route into Arsenal’s backline than either goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale or the cheaper Ben White. The concern with Tierney, as ever, is injury and whether he can be trusted to start games during a tight schedule, but at a low ownership of 6.4%, he may be worth the risk.

Armando Broja

With all these heavy hitters to swap around and squad restructuring to do, it can be useful to leave money in the bank for flexibility. But at the same time, we need a deep squad in order to cope with the postponements and rotation. It is difficult to find players in the cheap but reliable sweet spot.

Broja is one of the better budget options. He carries a rotation risk himself and can get substituted early but, with Che Adams and Adam Armstrong still making their way back from injury, the 5.1m-priced Southampton striker should get enough minutes going forward to earn points, while freeing up funds to spend elsewhere.

Source- independent

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Real Madrid tied with Cadiz



Real Madrid tied with Cadiz without goals in the match that brought them together today in the eighteenth round of the Spanish Football League “La Liga”.

With this result, Real Madrid raised its score to 43 points at the top of the standings of the Spanish League teams, and Cadiz raised its score to 14 points in 19th place.

Source: sena

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