Ex-Notre Dame Quarterback Ian Book’s NFL Debut Was Pretty, Pretty Bad

The Saints QB accounted for 135 passing yards with two interceptions and took eight sacks in a 20-3 loss to Miami

Zach Sieler of the Miami Dolphins pressures Ian Book of the New Orleans Saints. Book made his NFL debut on Monday Night Football, and it was not pretty.
Zach Sieler of the Miami Dolphins pressures Ian Book of the New Orleans Saints.
Getty Images

It’s early, but it may already be time to close the book on the former Notre Dame quarterback who started for the New Orleans Saints yesterday evening on Monday Night Football.

Playing without former 2021 starters Jameis Winston (torn ACL), Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian (COVID-19 list), and unable to convince longtime franchise QB Drew Brees to unretire and play in Monday’s game, New Orleans head coach Sean Payton gave fourth-round pick Ian Book the nod as his starting quarterback.

Book, who threw for 34 touchdowns as a redshirt junior but only threw 15 touchdowns in 12 games as a senior in 2020 when the Fighting Irish played in the ACC, was in a tough spot against a strong Miami defense and it showed as he completed just 12-of-20 passes for 135 scoreless yards and two interceptions (one was a pick-six) as the Saints lost 20-3. With Book under center, Miami didn’t allow a single third-down conversion from the Saints as they were 0-for-12 on the night.

The 23-year-old quarterback, who had fourth- and fifth-stringers blocking for him on the offensive line at one point, was also flattened for eight sacks by eight Dolphins defenders: Emmanuel Ogbah (2.0), Jerome Baker (1.5), Brandon Jones (1.0), Zach Sieler (1.0), Xavien Howard (1.0), Raekwon Davis (0.5), Christian Wilkins (0.5) and Jevon Holland (0.5).

It wasn’t pretty and Book knew it. “I’ve got a lot to get better at,” he said. “It’s bad. We didn’t score a touchdown. You can’t win a game that way. That’s a terrible feeling, throwing a pick-six in your debut. I’ve thrown one pick-six in my life, so that sucks.”

To be fair to Book, who was the first rookie quarterback to start a game for the Saints since Danny Wuerffel in 1997, New Orleans has a lack of viable targets in the passing game and almost no playmakers on offense outside of running back Alvin Kamara. And given how depleted the Saints were across the board due to COVID-19, Book was essentially doomed to fail. But he didn’t do anything to help himself with his poor play.

“Look, in fairness to Ian, it’s impossible to evaluate his play,” coach Payton told reporters after the game. “He’s competitive and tough. He’s gonna be fine. He’ll be frustrated, like all of us, with some plays, but certainly it’s not gonna define his growth or his career or what he does. It was kind of one of those perfect storms that, and it’s a tough spot, we’re all anxious to see him, and yet, it was just a tough spot for him to be in. And I think he’s smart enough to understand that.”

With both Hill and Siemian expected back from COVID-19 list this week, Book should be back on the bench when the Saints take on the Panthers in Week 17.

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