Sat, 25 Jun 2022

Dennis Allen has eased into role of New Orleans Saints head coach

New Orleans Saints
19 Jun 2022, 06:11 GMT+10

'D.A. has done a great job of just trying to keep it as normal as possible and adding his own kind of flavor to it'John DeShazier

The transition thus far has been smooth.

But then, that pretty much was the forecast and expectation for the New Orleans Saints from the day that defensive coordinator Dennis Allen became head coach Dennis Allen. And so, Allen's first offseason as head coach - three OTA sessions and veteran minicamp - carried a familiar flow with it.

"I look at it as, in my mind it's been a successful offseason, but it's just an offseason," Allen said Thursday. "We've got a lot of work that we've got to do between now and the beginning of the season.

"I certainly felt more comfortable in this role, in this environment, with this organization having so much experience here. I feel good about where I'm at, I feel good about where the coaching staff is at, I feel good about where our players are, but yet, not satisfied."

Players appear to agree. Mark Ingram II, the Saints' all-time leader in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, is entering his 12th NFL season and 10th with New Orleans. Sean Payton was head coach during the first nine of those seasons, but Ingram said it was significant that the organization chose to stay with Allen rather than hire from outside.

"I think that was huge, keeping the DNA the same," Ingram said. "It's not like it's a full rebuild here. I think you have a team that can make a lot of noise and make a run at it. Obviously, we have to improve and get better and gel as a unit, but I think keeping the DNA of the team, the culture of the team the same, I think that's huge and I think we'll all benefit from it.

"Obviously, D.A. is different from Sean. But D.A. has done a great job of just trying to keep it as normal as possible and adding his own kind of flavor to it. I think the defense is more used to it, because they spent so much time with him in defensive meetings. We only saw him sometimes when he had to fill in. But I like him a lot.

"I think he's doing a great job with the team, he's doing a great job in the team meetings, he's doing 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 have a sense of urgency. He's going to take care of us and get us off the field. I think he's done a great job. Just having the same DNA, the same culture of the team, I think that's going to be good for everyone in the locker room."

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Kicker Wil Lutz echoed Ingram's sentiments, in that Allen understands the culture the team has established and wants to maintain.

"I've been fortunate to be here with him the last seven years," Lutz said. "I've said it before: There's no replacing Sean Payton, but I think Dennis has come in and kind of set his standard. It's his program now. It's going to be run the way he wants it to be and I think there's been no drop off. It's been a smooth transition. I think it's been good, I think everyone has been happy with it."

Quarterback Jameis Winston, entering his third season as a Saint and second as the team's starter, said Allen's influence has been felt.

"I just love D.A.'s approach, how he's stepped in and been a commander of men, and showed great leadership and great dialogue with all of us," Winston said. "So I'm very excited and looking forward to the season and working with him continuously."

Winston and his teammates possibly may not be more excited than Allen, who is in his second turn as a head coach. He lead the Oakland Raiders from 2012-14, and brings the wisdom gleaned from that experience, plus the insight gained after rejoining the Saints in 2015, into this head coaching detail.

"It's exciting for me," he said. "Absolutely, it's exciting for me. It's exciting for me to have an opportunity to do that here, with this group of guys, the organization, the coaching staff, the players. There's an added excitement to this season for me."

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