Posted on: October 27, 2022, 12:53h.
Last updated on: October 27, 2022, 01:28h.
The New Orleans Saints are trying to turn around their lackluster season by installing Andy Dalton as the starting quarterback over a healthy Jameis Winston.
After winning the season opener by edging out the Atlanta Falcons by one point, the Saints lost five of their next six games. They ended a three-game skid with an inspiring 39-32 victory against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 5. They dropped two consecutive games since then to sink to 2-5 on the season.
Four out of their five losses were all within one score. Even both of their wins were close, with a total margin of victory of eight points in both games.
The Saints are a slight +1 home dog when they host the Las Vegas Raiders (2-4) at the Superdome on Sunday.
Dalton Named Starting QB Going Forward
Winston started the first three games of the season and went 1-2 as a starter before ankle and back injuries sidelined him. He completed 63.5% of his passes for 858 yards and four touchdowns. He tossed five interceptions, including three in a 20-10 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2, then threw two more picks in a 22-14 loss against the Carolina Panthers in Week 3.
Jameis is back healthy right now,” said Saints head coach Dennis Allen. “We’re gonna go with Andy as we sit here right now. And if we continue to play well offensively and move the ball offensively, Andy will stay in there.”
In four games this season, Dalton completed 63.4% of his passes for 946 yards and seven touchdowns. He tossed only four interceptions, but got picked off three times in a crushing 42-34 loss against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7. Overall, Dalton is 1-3 as a starting quarterback with the Saints.
“Andy’s played well,” added Allen. “Offensively, I feel like we’re in a little bit of a rhythm. We’ve been moving the ball effectively, we’ve scored points. And so we’re gonna continue down that road with Andy as the quarterback.”
During his 12-year career, Dalton is 78-72-2 as a starting quarterback. Since leaving the Cincinnati Bengals after the 2019 season, Dalton was relegated to backup status with the Dallas Cowboys in 2020, and with the Chicago Bears in 2021. An injury to Dak Prescott thrust Dalton into action in 2020 and he went 4-5 as a starter with the Cowboys. Last season with the Bears, Dalton went 3-3 as a starter when they benched Justin Fields.
The Alvin Kamara Speech
After the Cards beat the Saints on Sunday, running back Alvin Kamara gave a short but uplifting speech in which he called out teammates to be accountable for their shortcomings.
“You come out of a game you feel like you should have won, you kind of have some mistakes that cost us the game and you don’t feel good,” Kamara told ESPN. “It’s easy to kind of go in there, and it’s like, that quiet. That quiet in the locker room, waiting for somebody to say something. I feel like you have a lot of those moments, but I just felt compelled to say something, so I got what I had to get off and I left it at that.”
Kamara isn’t a verbose person in the locker room, so the speech resonated with his teammates.
I’m not used to losing,” added Kamara. “Even though we’ve had all these injuries and all that, I still feel like we can overcome. So, when I feel like we might not be putting our best foot forward to do that, that’s when I get frustrated. Just saying that I feel like, that kind of opened some eyes. Dudes know. People know. But sometimes you need a little wake up (call).”
Kamara stood by Allen’s tough choice to bench Winston and stick with Dalton as the starting quarterback.
“Andy never panics when he’s going through his reads,” said Kamara. “It seems like he gets to the right place at the right time. Minus some of the things we were doing that were self-inflicted, he’s played well. It’s going to be good moving forward.”
NFC South Wide Open
The Saints find themselves in last place in the unimpressive NFC South. They have the same record as the Carolina Panthers, who recently traded away superstar running back Christian McCaffrey. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons are at the top of the NFC South standings with a 3-4 record.
The Saints can still salvage their season with the division wide open. The Bucs are the favorites at -225 to win the NFC South, according to DraftKings. The Saints are third in the futures board at +1000 odds, behind the Falcons at +275.
The Saints didn’t opt to have an early bye week after a game in London against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4. They have six more games before their bye in Week 14. The schedule isn’t easy, with home games against the Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens, and Los Angeles Rams. They also have to travel to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, and the Bucs.