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If Winston Misses Time for Saints, Can Dalton Step Up?

Jameis Winston left practice early on Monday after suffering an ankle injury. Although early reports are saying this specific injury isn't anything serious, it's worth wondering where the Saints would stand if the oft-injured Winston is forced to miss any significant time this season.

Back-up quarterback Andy Dalton took the remainder of the first team reps when Winston went down on Monday, and The 33rd Team's Charles Davis, believes Dalton can step right in and pick up where Winston left off.

“So, now Winston gets hurt," Davis said, "Dalton can come in and carry you and lead you to a playoff berth.”

Dalton’s Dexterity

Davis is high on Dalton’s experience as a starter, and his current ability to win.

“You got a guy who’s been there before, knows how to win," said Davis. "I think he will pick up this offense quickly and benefit from it.”

Dalton has started 83 games in his decade-long career in the NFL. In that time he has thrown for 20,521 yards and has completed 62.6% of his passes. He has also thrown almost two touchdowns for every interception in his career—an improvement over Winston who has had well-documented issues with both ball security and injuries throughout his career.

Winston’s Been Productive, but Injury Prone

In his last four seasons with the Bucs, Winston ranked between 14th and 25th in total points in each year, with his best seasons being the early ones. In those years he was 50-60 points above a replacement level quarterback over the full season. In a shortened 2021, he was 9th in total points on a per-snap basis (among the 40 QBs with the most snaps), which would have put him closer to 90 points above replacement over a full season, acknowledging the limited sample size.

Winston has battled leg injuries throughout his career. Although he has worked tirelessly to rehab his knee this offseason, his mobility has been noticeably limited as he practiced with a knee brace—that's before sustaining an ankle injury today.

Moving Forward

We will continue to monitor this situation as the regular season draws near. If Winston is unavailable for even a portion of this season, Dalton seems more than capable of holding down the fort in New Orleans. That being said, there is much to be said for continuity.

"Even though the Saints have a new head coach," said T.J. McCreight, The 33rd Team's Director of Scouting, "they still have continuity within the program. Dennis Allen was on the staff, Pete Carmichael was the OC and Winston was the quarterback in 2021. Before Jameis was injured vs Tampa Bay, he was playing very well. He was accurate, made good decisions and protected the football.

"Carmichael, Winston and QB coach Ronald Curry (who was also with the Saints in 2021) don't have to start from scratch with the offense and terminology," continued McCreight. "This is a big advantage and probably one of the reasons that Allen was promoted to head coach. A lot to be said for already going through the growing pains and bypassing the “getting to know you” part of a coach/player relationship."


Cam Morris contributed to this report