The New Orleans Saints did not have to look very far or very hard to find a new head coach when they hired Dennis Allen, who has been their defensive coordinator since 2015.
Sean Payton abruptly retired at the end of the season, but in his exit interview with the media, he mentioned that he thought Allen would be the perfect candidate to succeed him as the next head coach of the Saints. The Saints front office agreed with Payton and promoted Allen from defensive coordinator to head coach.
“Those teams that let go of head coaches, I think their situations are different than ours,” said Saints general manager Mickey Loomis. “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.”
The Saints also interviewed Doug Pederson and Eric Bieniemy, but the team ultimate decided to hire from within the organization.
The Saints are +3000 odds to win Super Bowl 57 according to the look-ahead line on the NFL futures board over at DraftKings.
Allen Gets Second Chance
Allen had one previous stint as a head coach of the Oakland Raiders in the early 2010s. It didn’t go to well when Allen went 8-24 and was dismissed before the 2014 season ended.
Allen spent time in the mid-2000s as a position coach with the Saints. He was the secondary coach when the 2009 Saints won Super Bowl 44. In 2011, Allen left the Saints and spent one season as the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos before the Oakland Raiders hired him as their head coach in 2012.
Allen posted consecutive 4-12 seasons with the Raiders in Oakland in his first two seasons as a head coach. The Raiders fired him four games into the 2014 season after an 0-4 start.
Payton re-hired Allen in 2015 as an assistant coach. He replaced Rob Ryan as the defensive coordinator when the Saints fired Ryan midway through the 2015 season. Allen spent the last six seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Saints and the defense flourished. Under Allen last the last two seasons, the Saints boasted a top five scoring defense. They were ranked #5 in 2020 and #4 in 2021.
The NFC South is wide open after Tom Brady retired from the Tampa Bay Bucs. The Carolina Panthers face a make or break season in 2022, but they have Sam Darnold at quarterback and fielding trade offers for Christian McCaffrey. The Atlanta Falcons struggled in Arthur Smith’s first season as head coach, but Matt Ryan is getting older and looked awful the last couple of seasons. The Saints built a strong defense thanks to Allen, and if they can figure out their quarterback situation, they could claw their way to a postseason berth by winning the NFC South.
Who Will Be the Saints Starting QB in 2022?
During last year’s offseason, the big question loomed for Who Dat nation: who will replace Drew Brees at quarterback?
The Saints gave backup Taysom Hill a juicy contract. Hill was one of Payton’s favorite players because he played multiple positions and Payton dubbed him as a “Swiss army knife.” Hill was great in the red zone and fun to mix things up to keep opposing defenses on their toes. However, Hill lacked the overall skills to be a traditional starting quarterback, which made him a poor choice to replace a Hall of Famer like Brees.
Jameis Winston was tapped as the starter in 2021, with Hill penciled in as the backup. However, Winston blew out his ACL seven games into the season, and the Saints had no choice but to roll the dice with Hill. The results were less than desirable.
The Saints now face another quarterback quandary heading into 2022 with only two quarterbacks on the roster with Hill and Ian Book. It’s up to Allen to determine if Hill is up for the task, or if they’ll throw Book into the fire. Word on the street is that Winston’s rehab is behind schedule. His contract expired and it’s still undetermined if the Saints will bring him back next season. If the Saints can trim down their payroll, they could bring in a new quarterback.
Without a legit quarterback, the Saints have a serious roster spot to address. The lack of a quarterback is the main reason why Pederson passed on the Saints in favor of the Jaguars. The Jaguars have an up-and-coming talented quarterback with Trevor Lawrence, who was the #1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.