Following the conclusion of this week’s minicamp, the Saints got their first real helping of life without Sean Payton at the helm. New head coach Dennis Allen has received positive reviews from the Saints players so far.
That may not come as a surprise considering they are familiar with Allen, which is likely part of the Saints’ argument for their defensive coordinator’s promotion to head coach. Veteran running back Mark Ingram believes in that approach with the current New Orleans roster.
“I think that was huge, keeping the DNA the same,” Ingram said via the team’s website. “It’s not like it’s a complete remodel here. I think you have a team that can make a lot of noise and pull it off. Of course we need to improve and get better and grow together as a unit, but I think keeping that DNA of the team, the culture of the team the same, I think that’s huge and I think we’re all going to benefit from that.”
Ingram, the Saints’ all-time leading rusher, didn’t have an opportunity to work directly with Allen during his nine seasons in New Orleans, but the respected veteran’s assessment should be considered. Allen, who will remain Saints DC, promoted Pete Carmichael from QBs coach to offensive coordinator and retained most of the staff. Ingram sees the move as an ideal follow-up to Payton.
“Obviously DA is different than Sean. But DA did a great job trying to keep it as normal as possible and adding their own kind of flavor to it,” said Ingram. “I think the defense are more used to it because they spent so much time with him in defense meetings. We only saw him sometimes when he had to step in. But I like him a lot. I think he’s doing a great job the team, he does a great job in the team meetings, he does a great job with us out there telling us let’s get our work done, let’s be efficient, let’s be effective, let’s improve, let’s work, let’s get in “Having a sense of urgency. He’ll take care of us and get us off. I think he’s done a great job. Just having the same DNA, the same team culture, I think that’s going to be good for everyone in the dressing room.” “
A paragon of consistent success, Payton posted a 152-89 regular-season record as head coach, had nine 10-plus win seasons (all of which led to playoff appearances), never missing seven wins and seven in the process NFC South title won its 15 seasons. The Saints’ most accomplished coach of all time won the franchise’s only Super Bowl title in 2009 and will forever be a celebrated sports figure in New Orleans.
Allen was there for 12 of those seasons under Payton, but continuing such a tenure will not be easy. For better or worse, Allen has head coaching experience despite his run with the Raiders (8-22 record), which led to a midseason layoff. Allen has served as Saints DC for the past seven seasons and has overseen one of the most consistent defenses in the NFL. As the 2022 season begins, the Saints defense is expected to be the team’s strongest asset, which will be a major factor in the organization’s strategy to promote Allen.
Building on the offensive success of Payton’s era will be Allen’s toughest proposition. It will also be the most magnified storyline for the 2022 Saints. While he’s earned the respect of key veterans on the team so far, Allen recognizes the work that needs to be done as he leads New Orleans into a new era.
“The way I look at it, I think it’s been a successful offseason, but it’s just an offseason,” Allen said. “We have a lot of work to do before the season starts.
“I certainly felt more comfortable in this role, in this environment, with this organization that has so much experience here. I feel good where I am, I feel good where the coaching staff is, I feel good where our players are but not satisfied yet.”