Has Jameis Winston already thrown his last pass in a New Orleans Saints uniform? Saints coach Dennis Allen considered his options this week after Andy Dalton managed just 13 and 10 points in their last two games, but ultimately chose to stick with Dalton as his starting quarterback.
Allen cited Winston’s health as a factor, noting that he isn’t “100% healthy” after suffering back and ankle injuries earlier this season, and that Winston won’t return to full health this year. It’s a reversal from his initial claim when Allen named Dalton the starter, having said that performance was the main motivation in making a change.
But Winston feels like he’s ready to play again despite those ailments. He’s practiced fully in recent weeks without limitations or treatment from the medical staff, and he’s eager to get back on the field as soon as his team needs him.
“I know how I see it, I just know I’m ready to go,” Winston told local media on Friday. “When my number is called I’ll be ready.”
Winston spoke at greater length about his injuries and his relationship with Allen in a wide-reaching interview with NewOrleans.Football’s Mike Triplett, taking responsibility for having tried to play through injury early this season. He acknowledged that he still isn’t healthy, but he feels well enough to play if needed, and deferred to Allen’s judgment on why he isn’t playing right now.
“It hurts my soul,” Winston added Friday, when asked about Allen benching him for Dalton, “I lost my job due to injury, and the policy has always been you don’t lose your job because of injury.”
It’s really unfortunate that each of Winston’s two years as the starter have been derailed by injury. A dirty hit tore up his knee last year. A growing list of ailments wore him down this season. It’s unfair that things out of his control have kept him off the field, but that’s football. At the same time, Winston hasn’t played well enough to keep this from being a decision anyone has to make. If he’d outplayed Dalton by a large margin (either in 2021 or 2022) he’d be starting as soon as the team would allow it. But that hasn’t been the case, and it’s beginning to feel like neither of them will be in New Orleans come 2023.