Ian Book set for uncharted waters as Saints face Dolphins

By Sports Desk December 23, 2021

Ian Book is used to the big stage.

As the starting quarterback for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Book played in one of the most high-profile environments in college football.

But more often than not during his career in South Bend, Indiana, the cards were stacked in his favour.

On Monday Night Football in Week 16, they will be firmly against him, with Book asked to make his first NFL start against the Miami Dolphins after both Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian were reportedly placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

It means that the Saints' playoff hopes hinge largely on Book's ability to rise to the occasion against one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

The Dolphins have won six straight games to move to 7-7, catapulting themselves into the playoff race in the AFC.

And, with Miami's defense ranked sixth in the NFL with 80 opponent negative plays forced, Book is sure to come under plenty of fire.

The Saints will likely, therefore, look to make use of Book's mobility, perhaps with a similar gameplan to the one they would have drawn up for Hill.

Book rushed for 1,031 yards across his final two seasons with Notre Dame, good for 10th in the FBS in that span.

In his final collegiate season in 2020, Book had a pickable pass percentage of 2.12, the sixth-best among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts.

However, though, he excelled at avoiding turnover-worthy plays in college, the Saints may look to decrease the risk factor substantially.

A healthy dose of running back Alvin Kamara should be anticipated. His big-play rate of 19.5 per cent as a receiver is the third-best for backs with at least 50 targets.

Kamara's versatility should be a significant help to Book, as will the coaching of Sean Payton, who has his team in the hunt despite a raft of injury issues, and the play of a defense that shut out Tom Brady last week. 

Book is a player used to having it all on his shoulders at the collegiate level, however, for the Saints to move to 8-7 on Monday, they will surely try to attempt to take the pressure firmly off their fourth-round pick.

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