Of the nine NFL teams that had head coaching vacancies, the New Orleans Saints are the only ones that decided to hire inward.
After Sean Payton decided to step away after 15 seasons, the Super Bowl XLIV champions hired former defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.
However, general manager Mickey Loomis, president Dennis Laucha, and owner Gayle Benson discerned five finalists.
It is an excellent move for the Saints because Allen is already familiar with the organization, particularly the players.
But on a personal note, the 49-year-old mentor wants redemption from his dismal head coaching stint with the then-Oakland Raiders.
Disappointment In Oakland
Allen became the franchise’s 18th head coach when Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie hired him in January 2012.
His hiring was unique because team owner Al Davis preferred offensive-minded head coaches for the longest time.
Before him, John Madden was the last Raider head coach who honed his craft by stopping the other team from scoring.
Unfortunately, his stint in the Bay Area was essentially a failure.
Dennis Allen was the Raiders HC for 36 games from 2012-2014. He finished there with an 8-28 record. The Saints just chose him to be the HC through a rebuilding process over Eric Bieniemy. What a freaking joke
— Arrowhead Live (@ArrowheadLive) February 7, 2022
He did not finish what should have been his third season and got fired after an 0-4 start.
As head coach, the Raiders finished 8-24 in his first two seasons.
However, salary cap concerns limited Allen’s capability to bring in the right players for his system.
Despite that poor effort, the Saints have been his saving grace.
Success In The Big Easy
Winning the Super Bowl with the 2009 Saints is easily the pinnacle of Allen’s coaching career.
He served as the secondary coach that season under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, which is perfect because he played safety at Texas A&M.
His wisdom helped a solid bunch of defensive backs become invaluable pieces to the team.
I think Dennis Allen is ready for the moment. Turned the defense from a bottom-tier unit to a top-five unit. Had time to think about his Raiders stint.
Now it comes down to the QB and offensive staff. So hard to win in this league without the right QB.
— Chris Rosvoglou (@RosvoglouReport) February 8, 2022
Two-time All-Pro Malcolm Jenkins was also a rookie cornerback on that squad.
Allen held that position until 2010 and moved to the Denver Broncos the following year as defensive coordinator.
In 2015, he returned to Louisiana as a senior defensive assistant and defensive coordinator.
Eight years after his first head coaching stint, he can finally prove that his stint in Oakland was an aberration.
Favorites In The NFC South?
Allen will be the Saints’ head coach when the NFC South is wide open.
Tom Brady’s retirement gave the Saints, Carolina Panthers, and Atlanta Falcons the chance to unseat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Super Bowl LV champions can still have a strong squad, granted that they sign their top players to new deals.
But even if they remain a formidable squad, the Saints swept their regular-season series in 2021.
Dennis Allen will get a shot against the #Raiders next season as Saints host Las Vegas
— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) February 7, 2022
Allen was also the mastermind of the Week 15 shutout victory over the Buccaneers, which was Brady’s first defeat of that nature since 2003.
New Orleans had a formidable defense that ranked seventh in total yards allowed (318.2) and fourth in points allowed (19.7) per game.
While Allen already built a strong group on that side, his success as head coach will also rely on making their offense productive.
If he wants to create his winning legacy, he must work with whoever their starting quarterback will be and unleash Alvin Kamara’s versatility.