Don’t let his high Pro Football Focus player grade fool you — Andy Dalton hasn’t played well for the New Orleans Saints as of late, and his coaches are starting to take notice after a 4-1 skid over the last month. Saints head coach Dennis Allen discussed the state of the offense and considered his options at quarterback while speaking with local media on Monday.
“We haven’t been doing as well the last couple of weeks. I think we’ve got to evaluate that,” Allen said of his offense, which has averaged 15.6 points per game over the last three weeks. When asked about a potential change under center, he added, “I think that’s something that we need to look at.”
The Saints benched Jameis Winston in Week 4 after he was limited by back and ankle injuries, and Dalton played well enough to keep the offense afloat and better weaponize Alvin Kamara — for a time. After averaging 17 points per game in their first three weeks with Winston at the helm, the Saints averaged 29.6 points per game through six matchups in October with Dalton running the offense. But he’s fallen apart with 13- and 10-point outputs in each of their last two games, prompting talk of a switch.
Winston isn’t much healthier now than he was when the Saints put him on ice back in September; Allen noted that he’ll sit down with Winston and the team medical staff to see if he’s ready to start games again, but the fractured vertebrae in his back are still months away from healing up. Winston isn’t actively receiving treatment from team doctors anymore, which is why he hasn’t been listed on the injury report each week, but that doesn’t mean his body is right. There just isn’t anything to be done about it now.
Maybe the Saints make a move. To be frank, it doesn’t matter who is starting at quarterback for this team given all of their issues in each of the game’s three phases: whether it’s Winston, Dalton, Taysom Hill, practice squad quarterback Jake Luton, or a time-traveling Drew Brees in his prime, they are who their record says they are. A futile defensive effort and mistake-prone special teams unit have sunk their season.
And this isn’t exactly the best week to trot out a passer with four cracked vertebrae. Los Angeles Rams superstar Aaron Donald is coming to town, and the Saints don’t expect to have any of their three injured starters along the offensive line back on the field (that being center Erik McCoy, left guard Andrus Peat, and left tackle James Hurst). Putting Winston out there without reliable protection wouldn’t do him any favors. But it’s not like he or the Saints have any better options. We’ll see if Allen ultimately makes a move here, but that seems to be the way the wind is blowing.