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Saints 2022 Position Grades: Quarterback

New Orleans exited the 2022 season even further away from an answer at quarterback then when they entered the year. Here's how the Saints quarterbacks fared this season.
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Entering their second season since the retirement of franchise legend QB Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints were hoping they found an answer at quarterback. The team started four quarterbacks in 2021 because of a season-ending injury to Jameis Winston, leading to an ineffective passing game. 

Winston was re-signed in the offseason. Andy Dalton was brought in as veteran insurance and an upgrade to Trevor Siemian. The Saints felt confident enough with the position that they bypassed the chance to draft QB Kenny Pickett with either of their two first-round draft picks.

New Orleans finished 7-10 and missed the playoffs for the second straight year. Here's how their quarterbacks fared during the season. 

Grading the Saints Quarterbacks 

Sep 11, 2022; New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) throws a pass against the Atlanta Falcons. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 11, 2022; New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (2) throws a pass against the Atlanta Falcons. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Jameis Winston started the year strong, bringing New Orleans back from a 26-10 fourth quarter deficit for a victory at Atlanta on opening day. Winston completed 13 of 16 throws for 212 yards with two touchdown passes and a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter alone in the 16-point comeback. 

Over the next two games, the bottom fell out for both the New Orleans offense and their quarterback. The team scored a total of just 24 points in two losses while turning the ball over eight times. Winston accounted for five of those turnovers with interceptions. 

It was revealed that Winston was not only dealing with a significant foot injury but also broken vertebrae in his lower back. He'd be sidelined for the next few games because of that but never regained his starting job once healthy. 

Winston played his last snap of the year, and perhaps his last as a Saint, in a Week 3 loss at Carolina. He'd average 286 yards passing in his three games with four touchdowns and one 300-yard outing. However, he also threw 5 interceptions and was sacked 11 times.

Oct 2, 2022; New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws the ball against the Minnesota Vikings. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 2, 2022; New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws the ball against the Minnesota Vikings. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

New Orleans turned to 12-year veteran Andy Dalton when Winston was injured. The 35-year-old Dalton was efficient in his first few starts and led the Saints to their only two 30-point outputs of the year. Ultimately, he'd go 6-8 as a starter. 

Unfortunately, Dalton couldn't completely avoid the turnover bug either. He threw three interceptions in an eight point loss at Arizona, one in the end zone and two returned for touchdowns. It was also his only 300-yard outing of the year.

For the season, Dalton completed a career-high 66.7% of his throws with 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He'd average just a little over 205 yards per game and was sacked 25 times. 

Dalton wasn't nearly as effective late in the year as he was in his first few starts. Defenses showed a tendency to sit on the underneath routes and he had poor pocket awareness in several crucial situations. 

Nov 20, 2022; New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton (14) looks to throw against the Los Angeles Rams. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY

Nov 20, 2022; New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton (14) looks to throw against the Los Angeles Rams. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY

New Orleans ranked 16th in passing production with an average of 217.2 yards per game. It was a big jump from the abysmal 2021 results, but the franchise will go into 2023 without an answer at the most scrutinized position in sports.

Both quarterbacks showed positive attributes during their stints, but both were also a part of the team’s struggles. 

The 29-year-old Winston showed toughness and explosive playmaking ability. His strong arm and gunslinger style make the Saints a threat from anywhere on the field. That same style gives him the propensity for turnovers, and he also has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long looking for a big play. Winston also didn't benefit from good pass protection or a consistent running game in his three starts.

Dalton was the safer player of the two. He read defenses better and spread the ball efficiently. The veteran also had better protection and a more effective running game for a stretch than Winston had. Dalton's limitations also handcuffed the offense at times. He was without All-Pro WR Michael Thomas for all of his starts and Jarvis Landry for a big stretch. Injuries along the offensive line also affected his protection over the last half of the year. 

Neither Winston or Dalton were the biggest problem on the 2022 Saints. However, both quarterbacks were unable to be much of a difference maker for a team that desperately needed one. 

Inept offensive play-calling was certainly a factor, but a unit with Alvin Kamara, Chris Olave, Taysom Hill, and saw the emergence of Juwan Johnson and Rashid Shaheed should get far better production. Neither Dalton or Winston will be the starter for the New Orleans Saints in 2023.

Quarterback Grade = C-

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