After Further Review: Five takes on Saints hiring Dennis Allen as new head coach

Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 8:04 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Take One: Continuity wins out

“We don’t see it as a wholesale culture change, roster change, anything like that. Look, we have a lot of really good things here. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved and built upon, but you know, as Sean (Payton) said in his press conference, he’s leaving this franchise in a much better place than when he got here.”

Those were the words of Saints general manager Mickey Loomis back on Jan. 28, a few days after Payton announced he was stepping away. From the onset, Loomis made it clear, the organization was not looking for an overhaul.

Thus, in the end, the theme of stability won out over all others. It makes sense why. This is not 2006. The Saints are not in shambles. Instead, they’re a team not building a culture but maintaining one. Allen played a key role in the culture cultivation. He’s been with Payton for 12 of the 16 years here.

It also shows that the Saints are serious about not losing ground. They’ll likely keep a lot of staff and roster in place, and they don’t expect a dip in their winning ways.

Take Two: Dennis Allen’s resume’

Allen represents the continuation of the culture, but that’s not the only reason he got this job. He can truly coach. Let’s not forget just how much Allen has improved as a defensive coordinator. He’s become one of the game’s best both with game-planning and in-game schematics. Allen has just lacked the national recognition for it.

The overall production speaks for itself. The Saints defense essentially carried the team in 2021. They were the biggest reason they were able to make it to 9-8. Allen’s defenses also became a key catalyst in the Saints 2017-2020 run of success.

On the flipside, Allen failed in Oakland, 8-28 is what it is. Allen has some ownership in that. However, that organization never felt like they were on solid ground during his tenure with ownership and the front office. He won’t have those same organizational issues here in New Orleans.

Plus, there are several examples of coaches who struggle with their first head coaching shot and shine in their second. Sometimes a spectacular fail forces a coach to self-evaluate in a much more critical way than they would otherwise.

Bottom line, Allen is ready for the opportunity again, and the Saints can have success with him at the top.

Take Three: The Favorite lands the job

From the onset, it felt like Allen was the frontrunner to take over for Sean Payton. He certainly wasn’t promised anything, but had a great opportunity to land the head coaching gig due to his familiarity with the organization. Very early it appeared a candidate would need to blow away Loomis to overtake Allen.

The search started with Allen’s name mentioned first by a lot of people, and ended with him getting the job. Now, he’ll have to prove them right with what doesn’t appear to be much of a grace period.

Take Four: Thorough Process

Just because Allen was viewed as the frontrunner, doesn’t mean the process and outcome were pre-determined. The Saints did their due diligence and were open to other ideas and visions.

In fact, I was told Aaron Glenn really impressed them during his interview. Doug Pederson’s Super Bowl resume’ was certainly attractive enough to warrant an interview, while Eric Bieniemy’s interview reportedly lasted eight hours when all others averaged around six.

Loomis takes his time and is methodical by nature. They talked with six candidates total, and were the last team of the nine openings to make a hire. He spent a total of 13 days examining what he had and landed on someone he felt was best for the job.

Now, the organization moves forward with the man they believe will lead them to their next Super Bowl.

Take Five: Other Observations

- Who knows how much Allen’s interim effort in Tampa Bay played a role in this hire. I know this, it sure didn’t hurt. Shutting out Tom Brady was Allen’s masterpiece as a coach.

- Loomis went into this search prioritizing the candidates that either had strong knowledge of the Saints culture, or previous head coaching experience. Allen checks both of those boxes.

- With the head coach out of the way, the most important question now becomes who will be their next quarterback. It will be one of the most important decisions Allen will have to make. Those discussions will undoubtedly crank up very soon, if not already.

- One side note, there’s been speculation about Raiders quarterback Derek Carr being available. Allen drafted Carr when he was in Oakland.

- Loomis’ first head coaching hire in New Orleans turned out to be the greatest coach in team history. Regardless of how successful Allen is, he has big shoes to fill.

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