The New Orleans Saints entered the 2023 NFL campaign as the betting favorites to win the NFC South, but they’re just 5-7 after losing to the Detroit Lions in Week 13. Dennis Allen’s club hasn’t come close to meeting expectations this year.
If the Saints miss the playoffs, Allen will undoubtedly be on the hot seat over the offseason. And if New Orleans keeps losing games, there’s a chance Allen could be fired before the season concludes.
Saints HC Dennis Allen Among NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 13
Replacing a franchise icon like Sean Payton was never going to be easy, but Allen hasn’t done much to earn job security with the Saints. He seemed to be promoted by default, and New Orleans stumbled through a 7-10 campaign in 2022, Allen’s first year in charge.
Things were looking up heading into 2023. The Saints had won three of their final four games to close the previous season, and free agent addition Derek Carr profiled as an improvement under center. New Orleans had a clear path to the division title in an NFC South without an elite team.
But the Saints have lost three consecutive games, including a critical Week 12 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons that allowed Arthur Smith’s team to grab first place. New Orleans no longer controls its own playoff destiny.
“I don’t think there’s anything eroding the team’s confidence right now,” Allen said after the Saints’ loss to the Lions on Sunday. “We are going to keep chopping wood. That is the only thing you can do in this league.
“We’re going to leave the naysaying to everybody else outside of the building. We’re going to focus on what we have to do to try to improve in those areas so that we can eventually break through and win some of these one-score games.”
The Saints now have just a 28.5% chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN’s FPI. Their shot at a Wild Card berth has all but evaporated, so they’ll likely need to catch Atlanta in the NFC South.
Upcoming games against the Carolina Panthers and New York Giants should help, but New Orleans is dealing with an injury crisis.
Carr, who’s been banged up at various points already this season, suffered a concussion and a rib injury on Sunday. Starters like WR Rashid Shaheed, LB Pete Werner, and S Marcus Maye were out in Week 13, while CB Marshon Lattimore is on injured reserve.
Carr was struggling even before going down this week and ranks just 22nd in QBR. New Orleans gave the former Las Vegas Raiders starter a four-year, $150 million deal this offseason, but he’s posted worse numbers than 2022 Saints QB Andy Dalton. Carr’s contract structure ensures he’ll be in New Orleans through 2024.
Meanwhile, the Saints’ defense — Allen’s specialty — is no longer an elite unit. Injuries have played an issue, but New Orleans ranks 23rd in EPA per play since Week 6.
“I believe with all my heart we’ve got the right people in the building,” Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said last week. “I know we do. There are too many other things that are good signs.”
New Orleans has won five games in 2023. Four of those victories came against the Tennessee Titans, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, and Chicago Bears — all of whom ranked as bottom-seven NFL teams in Dalton Miller’s Week 14 Power Rankings.
The Saints’ front office, which has continuously stretched its salary cap to the hilt and traded away future draft capital, should shoulder much blame for the club’s lack of success. But Loomis, who’s been with New Orleans since for nearly a quarter-century, isn’t getting fired anytime soon.
Allen will likely last through the end of the season unless the Saints suffer an embarrassing loss to the Panthers or Giants. But he’ll undoubtedly be on the hot seat on Black Monday.
More NFL Hot Seat Updates
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots (2-10)
The latest reporting on Bill Belichick’s dreadful season in New England suggests that the Patriots would prefer an “amicable separation” rather than be forced to fire the legendary head coach. Belichick wants to keep coaching in 2024, but it will almost certainly be elsewhere.
Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders (4-9)
It took some time, but the Commanders’ record has finally started to align with their underlying metrics.
Four straight losses have removed Washington from the playoff conversation and all but assured the club’s new ownership will replace Ron Rivera heading into next season.
Robert Saleh, New York Jets (4-8)
Robert Saleh had been expected to survive the 2023 campaign while waiting for Aaron Rodgers’ 2024 return, but things have gotten ugly for the Jets. New York hasn’t scored more than 13 points since mid-October, Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian have seen action, and Zach Wilson is “reluctant” to get back under center.
Will Woody Johnson put up with this mess?
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