Saints QB plans still hazy heading into Week 5

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With the Saints back home after a rough loss in London and in dire need of a bounce-back win, it's still a mystery as to which quarterback might be tasked with that challenge.

It was Andy Dalton under center for a 28-25 loss to the Vikings in Week 4, a decision that Dennis Allen made clear was made based on health, not performance. But Allen didn't make that same declaration when asked on Monday whether health would be the sole factor in the quarterback decision for the Week 5 matchup against the Seahawks.

"I think the first thing we need to do is find out exactly where Jameis is health-wise before we make any decisions. ... I think that's where we're at right now. I don't have complete information on that, as we sit here today," Allen said. "Hopefully, we'll get a better feel for exactly where Jameis is over the next 24 hours, and then kind of see where we go from there."

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It was an opportunity for the head coach to project stability at starting quarterback, assuming health. Allen didn't tread that path on Monday. Take that for what it is, though it does still sound like a healthy Winston would have the inside track.

Winston's health status has been a near-constant topic since it was revealed prior to the Week 2 matchup with the Bucs that he was managing four fractures in his back. He's still dealing with an ankle injury that he suffered during training camp, and he also mentioned a hip issue when he spoke to the media in London.

If it were up to Winston, he'd have been participating in practice as early as Wednesday. He said so himself along with the declaration he'd be out there on Thursday. He wasn't, and ultimately he missed the entire week of practice and the start on Sunday.

Dalton took the reins and looked solid, if not exciting. He led a 12-play 60-yard touchdown drive in the first half, but that was the only sustained offense the Saints managed in the first two quarters. Dalton also lost a costly fumble late in the half as he attempted to extend a play. In all the Saints offense managed just 12 net yards on its 10 offensive plays outside of that scoring drive.

As it has in most games this season, the Saints got things untracked later in the game as they attempted to dig out of a hole, this time a 16-7 deficit late into the third quarer. They did climb all the way back, and even took a lead at 22-19, but ultimately fell short as Wil Lutz's 61-yard tying attempt clanked off the upright and the crossbar. In the end Dalton finished 20-28 for 236 yards and a touchdown. One worthwhile note is he was playing without Alvin Kamara (rib) or Michael Thomas (toe). There was no update as of Monday on their statuses heading into Week 5.

It's also worth noting that the Vikings defense the Saints faced in Week 4 ranks 26th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (263.5).

"Overall, I thought he played pretty well," Allen said of Dalton's performance. "You know, I think there's probably a few plays that he'd probably like to have back. ... I thought he operated the the offense efficiently. Particularly the way that we played in the second half, I thought was really pretty good once we were able to kind of get the run and the play-action game going."

The Winston-led offense has also been notoriously slow starting this season, with the Saints managing just 10 first-half points through three games. It'd have been 13 if not for a blocked chip shot field goal. Week 4 went similar to Week 1, with the Vikings doing just enough to fend off the rally, unlike the Falcons. In all Winston has gone 73-of-115 passing for 858 yards, 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Neither quarterback has blown the doors in terms of production.

But when you're 1-3 and with the season teetering, there are no bad ideas. Could Dalton taking the reins as the Saints starting quarterback be an idea that's picked, even if Winston is healthy enough to go?

That'll be the big question for the Saints this week. If things are going to turn around in the 2022 season, it's gotta start soon.

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