Position Filled: New Saints Head Coach
Help Still Wanted: Saints Quarterback
Now that it’s no longer Payton’s place, Dennis Allen is stepping in as the New Orleans Saints’ new head coach.
The head coach position didn’t stay open long, with Sean Payton leaving after 15 seasons just a few weeks ago. In the aftermath, it seems the Saints decided to promote from within their ranks.
They landed on Allen, 49, already the team’s defensive coordinator. At Allen’s first press conference last Tuesday, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis praised Allen’s leadership and teaching skills as well as his “football acumen,” calling him:
“A big part of the success we’ve had over the years. And frankly, he’s just a damn good coach.”
At that press conference the day after being notified, Allen, now the 11th head coach of the Saints — and nattily dressed in a black suit and white shirt with a gold tie and gold pocket-handkerchief, the Saints’ colors — called his new job “the perfect fit,” citing his familiarity with the players, staff, and culture. He added:
“If I could’ve laid at home at night and dreamt about where would be the one place that I would want to be the head coach, it would be the head coach of the New Orleans Saints.”
And having dreamt of being a coach from the time he was in seventh grade, it certainly seems Allen got his dream job. And he promised that under his watch, the team will be “tough, smart, and highly competitive” with an “explosive and exciting” offense.
Second time around
This marks Allen’s second run as a head coach, this one evolving from his second stretch with the Saints.
First, though, he trekked his path while still sort of following in his father’s footsteps. His Texas A&M Hall-of-Famer dad, Grady Allen, played defensive end at the school and then played as a linebacker for five seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
Dennis Allen played safety in high school and college.
In 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, he worked as a defensive assistant on Payton’s first staff. He was the team’s defensive back coach for their 2009 Super Bowl win.
He traded New Orleans for Denver in 2011 to work as the Broncos’ defensive coordinator, then took the head coaching job for the Oakland Raiders in 2012. It was a shaky overall rebuilding time for the Raiders (including a new general manager/owner).
Allen stayed there until 2014, returning to the Saints in 2015.
Finding a new quarterback isn’t a Brees
With the New Orleans Saints superstar quarterback and their Super Bowl MVP gone, at the top of Coach Dennis Allen’s to-do list may very well appear “Find a new quarterback.”
He called the task “the most important decision that you make.”
“A coach is only as good as the players that he puts out on the field. And behind every great coach is a lot of really, really good players,”
Allen said, noting that he was standing there “on their [the players’] shoulders.”
Allen left open the possibility of his still calling some plays, with “It’s hard to turn your baby over.”
His coaching philosophy ultimately boils down to “Be you.” A phrase he repeated several times. Maybe even a mantra.
That makes two
At the end of the day, that makes two big positions in the Louisiana sports and betting world with new top folks over the past year. Ronnie Johns took over as the chair of the Louisiana Gaming Control Board and now the Saints have their new head coach in Dennis Allen.
As the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus might have said, change is the only constant in Louisiana lately.