The New Orleans Saints made it official, promoting defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to head coach. Allen is a former Raiders head coach who will replace Sean Payton. Several Saints staffers correctly predicted during the Senior Bowl all-star game in Mobile, Alabama that Allen would get the job, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
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Saints promote Dennis Allen to head coach
Payton retired to recharge but is expected to resume his coaching career at some point. Under Allen, the Saints ranked fourth in total defense and points allowed over the past three seasons. He is a strong defensive strategist but went 8-28 as head coach of the Raiders.
Allen beat out several candidates for the Saints job, including Eric Bieniemy, Brian Flores (who’s suing the league and three other teams alleging discrimination), Byron Leftwich, Doug Pederson, and Aaron Glenn.
Allen has also coached for the Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, University of Tulsa, and Texas A&M in his career.
“First of all he’s a great coach, and he’s been a part of our building for a long time,” Saints general manager Mickey 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’s previous coaching stops
A Texas native, Allen attended Texas A&M and played safety for R.C. Slocum. He had a key interception in a win over rival Texas during his playing career. Allen was briefly with the Buffalo Bills as an undrafted free agent in 1996. Nevertheless, he didn’t play in the NFL after that season.
Following stops as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M (1996-1999) and Tulsa as a secondary coach (2000-2001), the Falcons hired Allen as a defensive quality control coach. A few years later, the Saints brought him on as a defensive line coach.
Allen became New Orleans’ secondary coach in 2008 before being promoted to defensive coordinator in 2011. One season there was enough for the Raiders to come knocking, offering him the head coach position. After starting the year 0-4, the Raiders fired Allen on September 29, 2014. The Saints hired him a year later as a senior defensive assistant before he took over defensive coordinator duties in 2015.
The defense was one of several strengths surrounding New Orleans last year, and the unit has played consistently well over the last few seasons.