Andy Dalton will make his third straight start at quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, on Sunday against his former team in the Caesars Superdome. Dalton played his first nine NFL seasons with Cincinnati.
Dalton completed 36 of 52 passes for 423 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception, against Minnesota and Seattle. In the last six quarters, with Dalton at the helm, New Orleans (2-3) has totaled seven touchdowns and 57 points, with 700 yards of offense.
"I feel really good about what we've been able to do and where we're at," Dalton said. "I feel like we've found some rhythm in the offense, and we're in a good place. There's obviously things that we could be doing better, but I feel good about where I'm at and what we've been able to do."
Dalton's third start comes with Jameis Winston having returned to practice this week on a limited basis. Winston hasn't played since Sept. 25 due to back and ankle injuries, and is listed as questionable for Sunday.
With Dalton, an improved running game (308 yards and five touchdowns in the last six quarters) and cleaner play (five offensive penalties committed for 35 yards in the last six quarters), New Orleans' offense has synced.
"I think guys cling to him," running back Alvin Kamara said of Dalton. "He has a certain leadership quality and a certain poise to him that I think the guys gravitate toward. Smart, obviously. He's been in this league for awhile, he knows what he wants to get to, he knows what he wants to do.
"Sometimes, you kind of look at the quarterback and he's like, you can't talk to him. But Andy is the first one talking. If he sees something or if he likes something, he comes and tells us, or he'll tell (offensive coordinator) Pete (Carmichael), he'll tell D.A. (Coach Dennis Allen). That's great to have a quarterback that's able to communicate that way.
"He's just about having fun. He wants to have his swag out there. Him having that type of demeanor and that type of poise, it helps the guys around him."
Dalton said his decisiveness comes from the experience gained in making 150 starts over 12 seasons.
"I think that's the big part of it, understanding how to play this position, and I've done it for a long time," he said. "So just finding that rhythm and balance of being decisive, knowing where to go with the ball versus different coverages and what they're trying to do. I think that's just my style of play."