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Sean Payton: “Impossible” to evaluate play of Ian Book off Dolphins game

As the coaching carousel gets underway, Mike Florio and Charean Williams try to predict which coaches and players will stay put this offseason and who will be on the move -- from Jimmy Garoppolo to Joe Judge.

Getting the first start of your NFL career without 22 teammates available due to COVID-19 probably wasn’t the debut outing Ian Book envisioned when dreaming about his first professional start. However, that was the hand Book was dealt as he stepped in to start against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

Book was battered by the Dolphins, being sacked eight times and intercepted twice as Miami cruised to a 20-3 victory.

Saints head coach Sean Payton said it’s difficult to read too much into Book’s performance given the circumstances he stepped into against Miami.

“Look, in fairness to Ian, it’s impossible to evaluate his play,” Payton told reporters after the game. “Hopefully we can get a little healthier, get some guys back and be ready to go next week.”

Book completed 12-of-20 passes for 135 yards with two interceptions against the Dolphins. He faced an onslaught of pressure from Miami as the Saints started backups at three spots on the offensive line and had a tackle in Kyle Murphy, whom the team signed on Monday before the game, finish the contest at right tackle because of an injury to fill-in starter Caleb Benenoch.

Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian both went on the COVID-19 list last week, paving the way for Book to make the start.

“I think he prepared well,” Payton said. “I just think that it’s one of the challenges sometimes that can take place even in the later part of preseason games where, man, you want to try to evaluate -- especially at the quarterback position -- but, you know, just keeping him up right tonight was a challenge. And I’m sure there’s some plays that, you know, we’ll look at and he’ll look at. The first interception was a throw he’ll want back but it’s it’s a tough position for him to be in.

“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.”