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Why the New Orleans Saints are happy that coach Dennis Allen is ‘keeping the DNA the same’ – New Orleans Saints Blog


METAIRIE, La. — Dennis Allen’s transition to head coach of the New Orleans Saints has been smooth by any measure.

Well, mostly.

“We’re such creatures of habit,” said the Saints’ former defensive coordinator, who confessed to a peculiar misstep a few weeks ago. “I left the locker room and went up to my office, and I just walked down the hall and down the hall and walked into what is now [co-defensive coordinator] Office of Ryan Nielsen. And I was like, ‘Oh fuck, I just walked into the wrong office.’

“He was in there, I struck up some kind of conversation and acted like I needed to talk to him. And then at the end, I was like, “I have to admit something: I really got into the wrong office. “”

To be fair, though, Allen has made a point of trying to keep things as normal as possible so far this offseason.

The mood has been much different than it was when Allen’s mentor Sean Payton first arrived in New Orleans 16 years ago and did everything he could to change Culture. Payton made changes to almost everything, down to the signs hung in the locker room and the jersey colors at home games.

Allen, on the other hand, is proud of the culture he helped Payton and much of that current Saints coaching staff and roster during five consecutive winning seasons from 2017 to 2021 before Payton failed. decides to leave his post in January.

“Why should I change things just to change them? Allen said. “We have done a lot of good things here. So you’re going to see a lot of the same things.

“Now the way I present the message may be just a little bit different from the way Sean presented it…kind of put my own flair into it.”

Players and coaches alike seem to largely appreciate this approach from the 49-year-old Allen, who is trying to find the success in his second stint as head coach that eluded him when he struggled to an 8-28 record with a much less established Oakland Raiders. from 2012 to 2014.

“It’s huge, just keep the DNA the same,” running back Mark Ingram II said. “It’s not like it’s a complete rebuild here. We have a team that can make a lot of noise and get going. Obviously we have to improve and improve and gel as a unit. But I think keeping the team DNA, the team lineage, the team culture, that’s huge.

It helps that everyone — including offensive players like Ingram — saw Allen’s results on the defensive side of the ball. Under Allen’s leadership, the Saints ranked fourth in the NFL in two yards allowed and points allowed the past three seasons. Last December, they became the first team to shut out Tom Brady in 15 years with a 9-0 road win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Although the Saints missed the playoffs 9-8 in an injury-ravaged 2021 season, their 58 regular-season wins over the past five years rank second in the NFL behind the Kansas City Chiefs. .

Even players who have just joined the Saints in free agency, such as safety Tyrann Mathieu and wide receiver Jarvis Landry, have said they are drawn to the established culture in New Orleans — despite the head coach change.

“The level of consistency is nice. It’s something you rely on. It’s something you already trust,” defensive end Cameron Jordan said. “[Allen is] someone we already trusted. So when you say, “Hey, it’s for the best of the team,” you believe it. It’s not like a new guy comes in and says, “Hey, this is how we’re going to run the team,” and you’re like, “Damn, do I take it or not?

“You know what our defense is, and that immediately brings credibility.”

That consistency is felt throughout the coaching staff, where Allen has retained longtime offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and promoted assistants Nielsen and Kris Richard to defensive co-coordinator roles. The biggest personnel change the Saints made this offseason was rehiring former Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone as offensive line coach – after Marrone previously served as coordinator Payton’s offense from 2006 to 2008.

Allen was also part of Payton’s original team from 2006 to 2010, including the Saints’ Super Bowl-winning 2009 season, before becoming defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos in 2011 and coach of the Raiders in 2012. Allen returned to New Orleans in 2015.

“What we do works and what we do works. And let’s be honest, Dennis was a part of that development,” said assistant offensive line coach Zach Strief, who was a rookie when Payton and Allen first arrived in 2006.[Allen] played an important role in building culture and structure. So even if Sean was the head coach, some of it could come from [Allen’s] brain.”

The most notable change reported by players and coaches was a slightly increased attention to detail. Not that Payton didn’t sweat the small stuff — he absolutely did — but Allen approaches everything with fresh eyes, including meeting times and practice drills.

“DA has always been about the details, and it’s been interesting to see him attacking with that same idea on the offensive end that everything has to be right,” said Jordan, who said he had resisted the attack so far. want to mock Allen for anything – or even complain when the now impartial head coach doesn’t credit the defense for enough sacks in practice.

“I just try not to piss him off,” the often exuberant Jordan said, admitting he may have had first-hand experience with it.

“I’m going to line up and say ‘Sir, yes sir’…for now.”

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