Allen in, Ryan out as Saints’ DC

NFL’s worst defense to return from bye with new leader
associated press

            The New Orleans Saints front office looked as discombobulated this week as its defense has all season. In his Monday morning media address, head coach Sean Payton said Rob Ryan was definitely still on his staff. That night on WWL Radio, he announced he had indeed fired his defensive coordinator and that assistant Dennis Allen would be interim defensive coordinator for the remainder of the season.

            Ryan came to New Orleans in 2013, helping the Saints to an 11-5 record a year after Steve Spagnuolo’s lone year at the helm of the Saints D. The Saints had the fourth best defense in the league in Ryan’s first season, but slipped to second to last in 2014. Losing six out of 10 this season lead to Ryan’s demise.

            Allen was brought in at the beginning of the 2015 season as a defensive assistant to help shore up the team’s leaky secondary. He has 14 years NFL coaching experience at the head coach, coordinator and assistant levels with the Saints, Raiders, Broncos and Falcons.

            “I’m disappointed for Rob it didn’t work out,” Payton said. “He’s a fantastic staff guy. He’s a guy that was respected greatly, not only in the locker room, but by his peers. We just had to at some point look closely (at making a change) because the direction we were going wasn’t good. We really struggled with substitutions, getting lined up, getting our guys the defensive call and being able to function.”

            You read that right. He said the team has struggled with “being able to function.” So much for the team following his “Do your job” mantra. Payton is admitting what has been evident from the beginning of the season. Still, it’s disconcerting to hear and see.

            Ten games into the season the Saints are 4-6 and in last place in the NFC South, behind the Panthers (9-0), Falcons (6-3), and Buccaneers (4-5). While technically not yet mathematically eliminated from the postseason, the Saints rank 14 out of 16 teams in the conference. With six games left in the season, it’s highly unlikely that the Black & Gold will reel off enough wins to reach the playoffs, especially considering the defense ranks dead last in the NFL in points allowed per game with 31.5, yards allowed per game with 424.7, and yards allowed per play with 6.7.

            There’s no doubt that Allen will have his work cut out for him.

            This season, opposing team’s quarterbacks have often had their game of the season, if not their career, against the Saints. In the last three weeks alone, opposing quarterbacks have thrown for a combined 1,045 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Saints allowed the Giants’ Eli Manning to throw for 350 yards and six touchdowns, Titans rookie Marcus Mariota passed for 371 yards and four TDs, and Washington’s journeyman Kirk Cousins had 324 yards, four TDs, and a perfect 158.3 QB rating.

            The Saints will enjoy the extra time provided by their bye this week to learn Allen’s scheme and, hopefully, become functional again. But it should be noted that the other side of the ball could use some review, too. The Saints offense has gone missing in the second half of the last two games, scoring just seven points in the four combined quarters. It’s far from the “Finish Strong” axiom the team employed in its Super Bowl winning year.

“Continuing along the same course we’re taking right now is not something that we’re going to do,” Payton said. “But you’ve got to look closely at what’s winning and what’s keeping you from winning. And in fairness to the players and fans and everyone else, we’ve got to look at that specifically.”


Payton’s Defensive Coordinators

In his 10 years as head coach of the Saints, Sean Payton has had five defensive coordinators. The team’s overall regular season record in that time is 91-63.

Name                           Years               Team Record

Gary Gibbs                  2006-08                  25-23

Gregg Williams            2009-11                  37-11

Steve Spagnuolo           2012                       7-9

Rob Ryan                    2013-15                  22-20*

Dennis Allen                   2015                       0-0


* Rob Ryan was fired 10 games into the 2015 season and replaced by Dennis Allen




Spotlight on Dennis Allen

New Saints defensive coordinator has 14 years of NFL coaching experience with four teams.

Team                          Positions                                        Year

Falcons                Defensive Quality Control                   2002-03

                              Defensive Assistant                           2004-05

Saints                       Defensive Line                                2006-07

                                   Secondary                                    2008-10

Broncos                Defensive Coordinator                          2011

Raiders                       Head Coach                                 2012-14

Saints                     Defensive Assistant                             2015

                              Defensive Coordinator                          2015*


*Allen was promoted to defensive coordinator with six games left in the 2015 season


Categories: The Pennant Chase