The New Orleans Saints have informed defensive coordinator Dennis Allen that they are hiring him as their next head coach, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday.
Allen, 49, will replace his longtime boss, Sean Payton, who stepped away two weeks ago. This will be Allen’s second stint as a head coach after he went 8-28 as coach of the Oakland Raiders from 2012-2014.
The Saints also interviewed former NFL head coaches Brian Flores and Doug Pederson, Detroit Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and Saints special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi for the job.
Allen was considered the candidate to beat since he has been so successful as New Orleans’ defensive coordinator — and since the franchise wasn’t looking for an overhaul after posting the NFL’s second best regular-season record over the past five years.
“Those eight teams that let go of head coaches, I think their situations are different than ours,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said heading into the coaching search. “We had our coach retire with a lot of really good things in place already.
“That doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved and built upon. But … we don’t see it as a wholesale culture change, roster change, anything like that.”
New Orleans’ defense has morphed into the strength of the team in recent years, ranking fourth in the NFL in both yards allowed and points allowed over the past three seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Allen also replaced Payton for one game in 2021 when Payton was sidelined by COVID-19, and the Saints won that game 9-0 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was the first time Tom Brady had been shut out since 2006.
It’s unclear how much of the Saints coaching staff will be retained, though that may have been a factor in Allen’s hiring. Offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and Rizzi are among several highly valued assistants on the current staff.
The Saints are banking that Allen will have more success in his second stint as a head coach. And in fact, Loomis said he considers it a positive that Allen has that experience to learn from.
“First of all he’s a great coach, and he’s been a part of our building for a long time,” Loomis said last week. “He’s been part of building the culture and he’s been part of the success we’ve had over the years. And he’s got experience as a head coach as well.”
Allen now becomes the 11th full-time coach in Saints history and the 17th, including interim coaches. He was a member of Payton’s original coaching staff in 2006 as an assistant defensive line coach and served as secondary coach when the 2009 Saints won the Super Bowl. Allen left to become the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator in 2011 and the Raiders’ head coach from 2012-2014. But he was fired four games into that last season and rejoined the Saints as a senior defensive assistant in 2015.
Allen became New Orleans’ defensive coordinator later in 2015 after Rob Ryan was fired, and he has held the role ever since — gradually helping to transform a unit that ranked 32nd in points allowed and 31st in yards allowed during that 2015 season.
The Raiders were in a bit of a rebuilding mode…
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