The New Orleans Saints have seemingly sunk to a new low in their flagrant disrespect for quarterback Jameis Winston after his recent interview.
For years, there’s been an unwritten rule when it comes to NFL starters: those who fought to earn the starting gig should never lose it as a result of injury.
Of course, that rule has unceremoniously been broken many times, often changing the course of franchise history. Drew Bledsoe lost the job to Tom Brady; Alex Smith lost the job to Colin Kaepernick. Tony Romo, Tyrod Taylor… the list goes on and on.
Now, it seems that the same phenomenon is happening to the previous starting quarterback for the Saints, Jameis Winston. Winston was the starter in Week 1 through Week 3, after which he was sidelined due to an ankle injury and a back injury.
Winston recently opened up to media about how losing the starting job following his injury has “hurt [his] soul” because “the policy has always been you don’t lose your job because of injury.”
Unofficially, Winston is right, as quarterbacks are often assured they’ll retain their starting role upon their return to the field. But Winston has been healthy since October, yet Andy Dalton has remained the underwhelming starter.
Saints head coach Dennis Allen reiterated on Oct. 26 that the Saints are “going to continue with Andy“, and in Week 11 against the Los Angeles Rams, Allen really drove that point home.
Subversive or not, Allen alternated between Taysom Hill and Andy Dalton against the Rams, with Winston failing to see the field all game. After his recent comments to the media, it’s questionable whether or not Winston’s comments factored into that decision.
Did Jameis Winston genuinely lose his Saints role to Andy Dalton due to injury?
When Winston was benched, the Saints possessed a 1-2 record following a brutal turnover-ridden loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Despite the Week 3 turnovers, there was a lot of positive tape from Winston, exemplified in the team’s Week 1 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
But with Dalton as starter, the Saints haven’t truly fared much better. Since Week 4, the Saints have five losses and three wins, their latest victory coming from their matchup against the Rams.
Even though Hill and Dalton kept it even early in the game, Dalton has kept the football for the remainder of it, scoring three touchdowns after the first quarter.
While Andy Dalton hasn’t been spectacular under center, the Saints have shown that they’re more trusting of him and Hill than they are of Winston. Winston is right in that teams usually allow the starter a chance to earn back their role, but sometimes, coaches go with the “hot hand“, and it does come across as a betrayal. Whether or not that’s fair, or whether or not it has to do with Winston’s comments, remains to be seen — it depends on where the team goes from here.
Fair or not, Winston’s time in New Orleans has been marked by his clear potential, yet marred by injury and unnecessary turnovers, too. If Winston lost the starting job and his injury played a role, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened in NFL history.