Stable stats, shaky records: Here’s how Andy Dalton went from NFL starter to replacement | Saints
The last NFL regular season game Andy Dalton played in, he started. There is a good chance that the next one he will play in, he will also be a starter.
New Orleans Saints starting quarterback Jameis Winston is doubtful to play Sunday morning against the Minnesota Vikings in London. Winston hasn’t been in training all week as he continues to deal with back and ankle injuries, leaving Dalton with nearly all of the first-team reps in training.
The Saints were looking this offseason for a reliable quarterback like Dalton, a three-time Pro Bowler who led the Cincinnati Bengals to five playoff trips in his first five NFL seasons.
“It’s the same prep I’ve had every week,” Dalton said. “I always prepare in the same way. So whatever happens, I know I’ll be ready.
The 34-year-old has previously played both as a starter and as a substitute. Dalton started for the Bengals from 2011 to 2019, going 70-61-2 in 133 games. He then spent a season with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.
With the Cowboys in 2020, Dalton supported Dak Prescott – until Prescott suffered a season-ending five-game ankle injury. Dalton then started nine of the 11 games he played, finishing 4-5.
With the Bears last season, Dalton faced Justin Fields for the top spot. Ultimately, Fields started 10 of his 12 games. Dalton has started six of his eight games, with a split 3-3 record.
Overall, Dalton has started 148 of his 152 career games. He holds a winning record of 77-69-2 as a starter, winning 52% of the games he was in the lineup with.
But in his debut as the Bengals’ No. 1 quarterback, he was more successful.
In his first five seasons with the Bengals, Dalton won 64.9% of his games as a starter (50-26-1). He took Cincinnati to the playoffs from 2011 to 2015, the longest streak in franchise history.
Once they made the playoffs, however, Dalton didn’t produce. He was 0-4 in the playoffs and missed the 2015 game with a broken thumb. He threw a touchdown and six interceptions in his four starts, completing just 55.7% of his passing attempts and averaging 218.3 yards per game.
Dalton’s success rate took a turn from 2016-19, when the Bengals had four straight losing seasons and went 20-35-1 as a starter (they won just 35.7% of matches). His 2-11 record in 2019 was the worst ever, and the Bengals replaced it when they drafted Joe Burrow in 2020 with the first overall pick.
That’s when Dalton left for the Cowboys.
Since then, Dalton’s winning percentage reflects a decline, but his stats do not.
Throughout his 12-year career, Dalton completed 62.2% of his passes for an average of 232.1 yards per game.
Dalton averaged a 62 percent completion rate and 237.5 yards per game with Cincinnati. His average completion rate has only dropped below 60% three times in his nine seasons (2011, 2017 and 2019). His highest yards per game average was 268.8 in 2019 and lowest was 207.5 in 2017.
In Dallas, Dalton had a 64.9 percent completion rate and averaged 197.3 yards per game. His numbers in Chicago were 63.1 percent and 189.4 yards per game.
In other words, Dalton suffered a drop in his yards-per-game production, but not his completion percentages.
The biggest difference lately was his starting quarterback record.
Dalton was 4-5 with the Cowboys and 3-3 with the Bears. He hasn’t played in a regular season game since Jan. 9, when Chicago lost to the Minnesota Vikings. In that game, he completed 33 of 48 passes for 325 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
Coincidentally, Dalton and the Saints are set to play against the Vikings at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.
“Look, Andy did this,” New Orleans coach Dennis Allen said. “He played at a high level in our league. And that’s really one of the main reasons we brought him here…in case he’s called, we’re confident he can step up and get the job done.