8:40am: In addition to hiring Allen, the Saints are also bringing aboard former Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland to do college scouting, a source tells Schefter (Twitter link).
8:16am: When we learned two weeks ago that the Saints intended to retain defensive coordinator Rob Ryan for the 2015 season, one report suggested that Sean Payton wanted to provide Ryan with “better pieces for success” to support him. It’s not clear yet what that means in terms of personnel, but the team has made a notable addition to its defensive coaching staff, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that the Saints are hiring Dennis Allen in a senior defensive role.
Allen, who started the 2014 season as the Raiders’ head coach before being replaced by Tony Sparano, served as the Broncos’ defensive coordinator during the 2011 season, and worked for the Saints for several years before that. Beginning in 2006, Allen acted as New Orleans’ assistant defensive line coach before shifting into a secondary coach position in 2008.
Recent reports had linked Allen to the defensive coordinator opening in Chicago, indicating that he was perhaps the frontrunner for the position. If Allen had joined the Bears, he would’ve been reuniting with head coach John Fox, who was coaching the Broncos during Allen’s brief DC stint in Denver, and GM Ryan Pace, who worked in New Orleans’ front office while Allen was with the Saints.
Instead, Allen will be tasked with helping to turn around a defensive unit that ranked fourth overall in Ryan’s first season with the team in 2013, but plummeted to 31st in 2014, both in terms of yards allowed and DVOA (per Football Outsiders).