The NFL coaching carousel has come to stop in the Big Easy.
On Monday, the New Orleans Saints filled the ninth and final coaching vacancy this cycle by hiring the team’s defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to replace Sean Payton.
Saints have informed their defensive coordinator Dennis Allen that they are hiring him as their next head coach, sources tell ESPN.
Once again Allen replaces Sean Payton, minus the interim title.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 7, 2022
Allen has been the defensive coordinator with the Saints since 2015 and previously served as the head coach of the Raiders from 2012-13, as well as four games in 2014 before being fired.
Allen has also been serving as the team’s interim head coach since Sean Payton’s departure and was chosen over five other finalists including former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, and others.
Sporting News takes a look at why the Saints hired Allen.
Why did the Saints hire Dennis Allen?
In hiring Allen and passing over Bieniemy, Glenn and Flores, all qualified candidates, the Saints are the latest team to prove Flores’ point in the lawsuit he filed against the NFL regarding systemic racism within the league.
All told, just two of the nine teams looking for a head coach hired a minority candidate– the Texans hired Lovie Smith, a Black man, and the Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel, who is bi-racial.
Team GM Mickey Loomis, however, will say that Allen is the only one of the six finalists he interviewed who fit a very specific set of criteria according to NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan.
To be clear, these weren’t the ONLY criteria. They were just the two main ones in establishing candidacy for the job interviews. Point being, Allen had a major advantage because he met BOTH criteria. Someone needed to blow the doors off the interview to beat him out for the job. https://t.co/MuBxAmM8gi
— Jeff Duncan (@JeffDuncan_) February 8, 2022
Based on Loomis’ main criteria, Bieniemy and Glenn lacked head coaching experience, but both had ties to New Orleans. Bieniemy grew up there while Glenn played for the Saints in 2008 and was the team’s defensive backs coach from 2016-20.
And as for head coaching experience, Loomis lost Pederson to the Jaguars, Flores remains unemployed as he sues the NFL and Allen was marginal at best in two-and-a-quarter years in Oakland nearly a decade ago.
Dennis Allen coaching experience
Allen has largely been a serviceable, if not slightly above, coach during much of his NFL tenure. He got his start in coaching at his alma mater, Texas A&M, where he was a grad assistant for three years from 1996-99.
He spent two years at Tulsa as DB’s coach before getting his first NFL gig with the Falcons in 2002 and held various defensive assistant roles with the Falcons and Saints from 2002 to 2011 when he was named the DC of the Broncos.
In his first stint as a full-time DC, the Broncos were 20th in total defense and 24th in scoring defense, despite having Hall of Famers Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins and Pro-Bowlers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil.
Still, that was enough to get him his first head coaching job, as he was named the Raiders’ coach in 2012. The Raiders struggled under Allen, going just 8-28 as he got fired four games into his fourth season after an 0-4 start.
Oakland ranked last, 29th and 28th in scoring defense during his time there and were middle of the pack in total defense.
Since he’s gotten to the Saints, he’s had just two top-10 total defenses — in 2020 and 2021 — and three top-10 scoring defenses, being bailed out by one of the league’s best offenses each time.