AP sources: Saints tap Dennis Allen to replace Sean Payton


NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The New Orleans Saints have promoted defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to head coach, two people with knowledge of the decision said Monday.

People spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the Saints have not announced the chosen replacement for Sean Payton, who quit nearly two weeks ago after 16 years with the club.

ESPN first reported the Saints’ decision to promote from within after the club also interviewed outside candidates, including former Miami coach Brian Flores, Detroit defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn and Detroit offensive coordinator. Kansas City Eric Bieniemy.

Allen, 49, is in his second stint with the Saints. He was their secondary coach when they won the Super Bowl in the 2009 season. He left New Orleans in 2011 to become Denver’s defensive coordinator before taking his first and only other head coaching job with Oakland Raiders in 2012.

He was fired by the Raiders four games into the 2014 season and returned to the Saints as senior defensive assistant in 2015 before eventually taking over as defensive coordinator at the end of the season when Payton fired Rob Ryan.

The Saints have ranked in the NFL’s top seven defensively the past two seasons, raising Allen’s profile as an NFL contender for a second chance as head coach.

Hiring Allen gives the Saints a measure of continuity, not just on defense but across the staff, a number of whom have years of experience working with Allen.

Top Saints defensive players such as sack leader Cameron Jordan and linebacker Demario Davis have also been strong Allen supporters over the past half-decade.

“Just a phenomenal, leading coach,” Davis said at the end of last season. “Really understands our defense staff, understands what guys do well, understands how to put us all in position to be successful, really good at understanding opponents.”

Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson played four seasons under Allen with the Saints before signing with Cincinnati as a free agent last offseason.

“He’s a great coach,” Hendrickson said during the Bengals’ Zoom sessions with reporters as Cincinnati prepares to face the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl on Sunday. “He expects the best from his players. He’s a great leader. It was one of those things I walked into and knew pretty early on that he was special.

“And to have him as DC, I knew he was going to be a head coach again at some point in his career.”

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis pointed to Allen’s credentials to replace Payton on more than one occasion when looking for the club’s head coach.

“First of all, he’s a great coach and he’s been in our building for a long time,” Loomis said, adding that Allen helped promote the club’s “culture” during the Payton days and was “a much of the success we’ve had over the years.

Allen has been open about his desire for a second chance as head coach. The Raiders were struggling when he was hired for his first top job in Oakland. He went 4-12 in his first two seasons and was fired after an 0-4 start in his third.

Now he takes the reins of a team that narrowly missed the playoffs after a 9-8 2021 campaign, but won the NFC South the previous four seasons and established a tradition of victory during the Payton era.

“The resume and what we’ve been able to accomplish here defensively speaks for itself in terms of the kind of culture and the kind of squad we’ve built here,” Allen said at the end of last season when he was asked about potential head coaching opportunities. “I would love to have this opportunity again, I think I would be much better prepared for it.

“Anything you do, as you gain experience, you get better at whatever task it is,” Allen added.

But Allen will also inherit new challenges and headaches. New Orleans’ quarterback position remains unstable just one year from the retirement of the franchise’s all-time leader Drew Brees.

Jameis Winston had seven promising starts before a season-ending knee injury and is expected to become a free agent. Taysom Hill went 4-1 as a late season starter, making him 7-2 for his career. But this is still a relatively small sample size.

Meanwhile, New Orleans’ top offensive player, running back Alvin Kamara, faces criminal charges following a fight at a Las Vegas nightclub that was caught on camera over the weekend. last. Depending on how his legal issues are resolved, the NFL could suspend him, possibly for multiple games.


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