Rise of Dennis Allen: From Defensive Coordinator to New Orleans Saints’ Helm

The New Orleans Saints’ Coaching Transition

The New Orleans Saints recently underwent a significant coaching transition when Sean Payton, their long-time head coach, retired at the end of the season. Payton, in his exit interview, expressed confidence in Dennis Allen, the team’s defensive coordinator since 2015, as the ideal candidate to succeed him. Payton’s recommendation resonated with the Saints’ front office, leading them to promote Allen to the position of head coach.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis highlighted that the team’s situation differed from other teams that let go of head coaches. Payton’s retirement came with a solid foundation already in place. While improvements can be made, there is no need for a complete overhaul of the team’s culture or roster. The Saints believe that Allen’s promotion will build upon the existing strengths of the organization.

Dennis Allen’s Journey and Second Chance

Dennis Allen’s coaching journey has been a mix of experiences. He previously served as the head coach for the Oakland Raiders in the early 2010s but struggled with a record of 8-24 before being dismissed in 2014. However, Allen had prior involvement with the Saints, working as a position coach in the mid-2000s and playing a role in the defense that helped the team secure Super Bowl 44 in 2009. Following his time with the Saints, Allen became the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in 2011 before eventually joining the Raiders as head coach in 2012.

After his stint in Oakland, Allen returned to the Saints in 2015, this time as an assistant coach. He took over as the defensive coordinator midway through the 2015 season after the team fired Rob Ryan. Under Allen’s leadership, the Saints’ defense thrived, with the team boasting a top-five scoring defense in the last two seasons. In 2020, they ranked fifth in the league, and in 2021, they climbed to an impressive fourth place.

Opportunities in the NFC South and Quarterback Dilemma

With Tom Brady’s retirement from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the NFC South has become wide open for the taking. The Carolina Panthers face a pivotal season, while the Atlanta Falcons look to rebound from a challenging first year under head coach Arthur Smith. As for the Saints, their strong defense, thanks to Allen’s guidance, positions them well to compete for a postseason berth and potentially win the NFC South. However, their success hinges on resolving their quarterback situation.

Following Drew Brees’ departure, the Saints faced the daunting task of finding his successor. They initially turned to Taysom Hill, a versatile player known for his ability to play multiple positions. While Hill excelled in the red zone and provided a dynamic element to the offense, his skills fell short of what was needed from a traditional starting quarterback. Unfortunately, Jameis Winston, who took over as the starter in 2021, suffered a season-ending ACL injury, leaving the Saints with limited options. Hill’s performance as the replacement quarterback proved underwhelming.

Looking ahead to the 2022 season, the Saints find themselves in yet another quarterback dilemma. With only Hill and Ian Book on the roster, Allen must determine if Hill is capable of leading the team or if they should give Book an opportunity. Adding to the uncertainty, Winston’s rehab progress is reportedly behind schedule, and his future with the Saints remains uncertain as his contract has expired. The team may need to explore other quarterback options if they can manage their payroll effectively.


The New Orleans Saints’ coaching transition from Sean Payton to Dennis Allen signifies a new chapter for the franchise. With Payton’s endorsement and Allen’s experience and success as the defensive coordinator, the Saints believe they can build upon their existing strengths and remain competitive in the NFC South. The resolution of the quarterback situation will be crucial in determining their success in the upcoming season.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Who recommended Dennis Allen as the new head coach?

During his exit interview, Sean Payton, the former head coach of the Saints, recommended Dennis Allen as the ideal candidate to succeed him.

2. What has been the key to the Saints’ defensive success under Allen?

Under Dennis Allen’s leadership as the defensive coordinator, the Saints have excelled on the defensive side of the ball. They have consistently ranked among the top five teams in terms of scoring defense in recent years.

3. What challenges does the NFC South face without Tom Brady?

With Tom Brady’s retirement from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the NFC South becomes a highly competitive division, offering opportunities for teams like the Saints to secure a postseason berth or even win the division.

4. Who will be the starting quarterback for the Saints in the 2022 season?

The Saints currently have Taysom Hill and Ian Book as their quarterbacks. It is up to Dennis Allen to assess if Hill is fit for the starting role or if they should consider giving Book a chance. However, the return of Jameis Winston and potential new quarterback acquisitions could impact this decision.

5. How have the Saints addressed their quarterback dilemma?

Following Drew Brees’ departure, the Saints initially turned to Taysom Hill and later Jameis Winston as the starting quarterback. However, injuries and uncertainties surrounding their performances have created a dilemma for the team. Resolving this issue will be crucial for the Saints’ success in the upcoming season.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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