Back in The Day, the Most Popular Guy in Town was always the back-up quarterback.
At least it was when teams HAD a backup quarterback, like Earl Morrall, Don Strock, Zeke Bartkowski, George Blanda, Gary Kubiak, Craig Morton. Some of the greats also started at backup: Roger Staubach, Steve Young, Kurt Warner. And you can’t forget Nick Foles.
Now, because in 2022 it is illegal for a defender to touch a quarterback, the need to spend money on a quality veteran backup is largely ignored. But when Saints QB Jameis Winston went down last year after seven games, we broke a tooth on the find out part of fucking around.
Which brings us to backup QB Andy Dalton, signed in the offseason as a lesson well-learned. Unfortunately, we’ve had to use him (which means your starter is hurt), but he’s filled the void decently as a good understudy should. He had a nice game against the Vikings two weeks ago, and we won last Sunday.
But let us not get carried away.
The game against Seattle last Sunday was a must-win game to save the season. Against what is by far the worst defense in football, when we absolutely needed a ton of points to win, Dalton was 16 for 24 for 187 yards, one TD and one INT. Of those 187 yards, 91 were passes to RB Alvin Kamara. We also ran the ball 48 times for 235 yards, and All-Purpose Hero Taysom Hill accounted for four of our five TDs and was the NFC Player of the Week.
Folks, Andy Dalton is a 35-year-old quarterback who’s had a passer rating above 90 exactly twice in his career, the last time in 2016. In the last four years, he’s started 39 games with a record of 14-25, 59 TD passes, 42 interceptions, and a passer rating of 82.4. And his arm’s not getting any stronger: in two games, other than a 54-yard screen pass to Kamara, he’s had all of two completions of 20 yards or more.
And that’s exactly who he is, no more, no less. To expect him to morph into Drew Brees, or a cool breeze, or maybe Drew Barrymore, is somewhere between a chasing a bad poker hand and expecting your married ex-girlfriend to come back to you. Sorry, Champ. Not happening.
Stop and think. You play fantasy football, right? Would you ever spend a draft pick on a guy with those numbers because you thought he might suddenly do substantially better this year?
Dalton may be a Saint, but as the song goes, he sure as hell ain’t no savior.
Folks, like it or not, this is now a big-play league. In the last two drafts, out of the first 20 picks, QBs and WRs were 15 of the 40 total selections, and I submit the total number would have been higher if this year’s QB draft class had not been perceived as the weakest in recent memory.
Also, as noted above, QBs are now essentially immune to any hard contact, and contact by DBs in the secondary is now a point of emphasis for the refs.
This is where the league is now, and is headed for the foreseeable future: big plays. To win big, you must be able to get big plays. The fans love it, which I assure you is all the NFL cares about. And you’re simply not getting anywhere with a caretaker quarterback.
Jameis Winston can get big plays for you, and Andy Dalton cannot.
Everyone has been so quick to dismiss Winston’s 102.7 passer rating last year, and I am not. His slow start this year can and should be attributed to the fact that he is still not a year removed from a torn ACL in game 7 of last season, and he missed pretty much all of camp.
He will play better, and he will make some mistakes, maybe a few more than the best big-play quarterbacks, but that will be a necessary evil because the big plays will also come.
Andy Dalton is a fine short-term backup. But even at his best as a starter, all he can provide in the long run is a slower death.
I can’t blame folks for feeling the way they do sometimes, but Payton went out and signed and kept Jameis Winston for a reason. He is and needs to be the quarterback if he’s healthy enough to play. Even Andy Dalton knows this. Fans all need to know it, too.
GO SAINTS GO