Dennis Allen

Latest On Saints’ QB Situation

The Saints had recently entertained the notion of making a quarterback change for the second time this season, but that move will be delayed for at least one more week. Head coach Dennis Allen confirmed on Wednesday that Andy Dalton will remain the team’s starter in Week 11.

The veteran has been in place as New Orleans’ No. 1 since Week 4, when he stepped in for an injured Jameis Winston. The latter entered the season fully recovered from his 2021 ACL tear and with a two-year deal in hand to continue where he left off last season. Back and ankle injuries have limited his availability during this campaign, however, and he struggled during his three starts.

Dalton remained atop the depth chart even after Winston was healthy enough to dress, given the team’s relative offensive success. Last month, Allen indicated that Dalton could take on the starter’s role on a full-time basis depending on his performance and Winston’s availability to recover. The 35-year-old’s first five starts saw the Saints put up no fewer than 24 points in each contest, quelling any potential controversy at the position.

In the two games which have followed, New Orleans has scored 23 total points in losses to the Ravens and Steelers. Allen endorsed Dalton in the former case, stating that he gave no consideration to a midgame QB change against Baltimore. Days ago, though, the door seemed to open to a Winston return as the Saints remain in search of a catalyst for their banged-up offense.

“[W]e haven’t been doing as well the last couple weeks,” Allen said earlier this week, via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, on the subject of a potential quarterback swap. “So, I think we’ve gotta evaluate that. I think that’s something that we need to look at.”

Allen said today (via Terrell, on Twitter) that Winston is still not 100% healthy. More worryingly, he added that it remains unclear if the former No. 1 pick will reach full health any time soon. For at least one more game, then, it will be Dalton under center as New Orleans hosts the Rams on Sunday as a pair of struggling teams aim for their fourth win of the season.

Andy Dalton To Remain Saints’ Starting QB

Last night saw the Saints deliver an underwhelming performance on offense during their loss to the Ravens. It invited questions about the team’s quarterback plans moving forward, but no changes are imminent on that front.

Veteran Andy Dalton made his sixth consecutive start in the 27-13 loss, one in which the Saints converted three of 11 third downs and were out-possessed by more than 15 minutes. Overall, the 35-year-old threw for 210 yards, one touchdown and one interception. At no time during the contest, though, did head coach Dennis Allen consider making a switch.

“There was a lot that wasn’t good offensively tonight,” Allen said, via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk“There was a lot of dirty hands in that.” Taking a wider view of the Saints’ offense, he added, “whatever it’s been, five weeks, I think our offense has been pretty good… I’m looking at this as we had a bad day at the office offensively tonight” (Twitter link via ESPN’s Katherine Terrell).

Dalton took over for an injured Jameis Winston beginning in Week 4. While the latter worked his way toward recovery from back and ankle ailments, Dalton had guided the team to two victories and three one-score losses heading into last night. The longtime Bengals starter, who has since become a journeyman backup, was said to have a relatively long leash last month based on his play.

Things took a turn on Monday, Dalton’s 20th loss in 26 career primetime appearances. Overall, though, the Saints have been more productive with him at the helm compared to Winston, who threw five interceptions and took 11 sacks in his three starts to begin the campaign. He was signed to a two-year deal this offseason to return to the starting role he had prior to last year’s ACL tear, but Allen’s remarks confirm that the situation is much different in 2022.

New Orleans’ QB plans are being made, of course, within the context of an offense which has been shorthanded throughout the campaign. The team’s much-improved receiving corps has not been at full strength, a situation which is likely to remain the case with Michael Thomas not expected to play again this year. Dalton – or, Winston, if another switch is made down the road – will remain in less-than-ideal circumstances for the duration, as the 3-6 team looks to regroup in the wide-open NFC South.

South Notes: Saints, Darnold, Colts

Links between Patrick Mahomes and other teams have emerged in the past. The Cardinals were preparing to draft the eventual Chiefs megastar five years ago. Sean Payton also confirmed the rumored story of his old team’s plans with the then-Texas Tech prospect. During his latest FOX appearance (h/t NFL.com’s Peter Schrager), the former Saints coach said he was prepared to draft Mahomes at No. 11 in 2017. While Payton confirmed he discussed the selection with Drew Brees and informed the future Hall of Famer a Mahomes pick would not impact his starter status, the Saints also viewed Marshon Lattimore as a top-four player in the 2017 class.

Payton said in 2020 the team did not have a clear choice between Lattimore and Mahomes, though then-Kansas City GM John Dorsey made New Orleans’ decision easier with the trade-up for the quarterback. Payton said this week Mahomes was “the best quarterback I’d ever seen on college tape.” The Saints had worked out Mahomes in Lubbock that year. Hindsight would suggest the Saints needed to be ready to climb into the top 10 for such a talent, but Mahomes was not viewed as a surefire top-10 pick that year. GM Mickey Loomis also said Lattimore falling impacted the team’s decision not to trade up for Mahomes. Both Mahomes and Lattimore are now signed to long-term contracts, though the former’s prime should be expected to last longer.

Here is the latest from the NFC South:

  • The NFL’s longest-tenured general manager, excluding those with owner-GM or coach-GM roles, Loomis has seen fellow Saints cornerstones Payton and Brees depart in the past two offseasons. But the 21st-year Saints front office boss is not planning to join them in leaving anytime soon, via Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com. When the acclaimed salary cap guru does walk away, Jeff Ireland looms as a logical successor. The former Dolphins GM is well-regarded by Loomis and others in the organization, Duncan adds. Ireland, 52, was the Dolphins’ GM from 2008-13. Currently the Saints’ assistant GM, Ireland has been with the team since 2015. The Bears interviewed Ireland for their GM post this offseason, while the Lions and Panthers met with him in 2021. It will be interesting to see if Ireland sticks around to potentially succeed Loomis or land a GM gig elsewhere before the New Orleans GM exits.
  • After a strained 2021 between Michael Thomas and the Saints, first-year HC Dennis Allen made connecting with the wide receiver one of his first acts upon being promoted. Allen flew to Los Angeles to have dinner with Thomas early this offseason, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com notes. Despite Thomas’ injury-plagued 2020s and the Saints’ frustration with their top wideout regarding his 2021 surgery timetable — a process that led to the All-Pro missing a full season — the team vowed not to trade him early this offseason. Thomas, 29, has returned healthy and caught two touchdown passes in the Saints’ Week 1 comeback win over the Falcons.
  • Potentially the Colts‘ left tackle of the future, Bernhard Raimann backed up Matt Pryor in Week 1. But the Colts used the third-round rookie in a rotation with Pryor. After Raimann played 12 of the five-period game’s 90 left tackle snaps, Frank Reich said (via the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson) he plans to continue rotating his backup in going forward. Left tackle represented the only position at which the Colts deployed a rotation, beginning a path to Raimann seizing this job full-time. The Colts re-signed Pryor on a one-year, $5.55MM deal this offseason, and Erickson offers the 2021 Colts swingman — who has never been a full-time left tackle — could be an option at right guard, should Raimann take over the blindside.
  • Sam Darnold is making progress toward a return. The Panthers backup has shed his walking boot, per The Athletic’s Joe Person (on Twitter). On IR due to a high ankle sprain, Darnold will miss at least the season’s first four weeks.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

The NFL experienced a busy offseason on the coaching front. A whopping 10 teams changed coaches during the 2022 offseason, with the Buccaneers’ late-March switch pushing the number into double digits.

Fourteen of the league’s 32 head coaches were hired in the past two offseasons, illustrating the increased pressure the NFL’s sideline leaders face in today’s game. Two of the coaches replaced this year left on their own. Sean Payton vacated his spot in second on the longest-tenured HCs list by stepping down from his 16-year Saints post in February, while Bruce Arians has repeatedly insisted his Bucs exit was about giving his defensive coordinator a chance with a strong roster and not a Tom Brady post-retirement power play.

While Bill Belichick has been the league’s longest-tenured HC for many years, Payton’s exit moved Mike Tomlin up to No. 2. Mike Zimmer‘s firing after nine seasons moved Frank Reich into the top 10. Reich’s HC opportunity only came about because Josh McDaniels spurned the Colts in 2018, but Indianapolis’ backup plan has led the team to two playoff brackets and has signed an extension. Reich’s seat is hotter in 2022, however, after a January collapse. Linked to numerous HC jobs over the past several offseasons, McDaniels finally took another swing after his Broncos tenure ended quickly.

As 2022’s training camps approach, here are the NFL’s longest-tenured HCs:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2024
  3. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  4. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010; extended through 2025
  5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2025
  6. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2025
  7. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2023
  8. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2025
  9. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018; signed extension in February 2022
  10. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018; extended through 2026
  11. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019; extended through 2027
  12. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  13. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  14. Ron Rivera (Washington Football Team): January 1, 2020
  15. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  16. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  17. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020
  18. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  19. Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons): January 15, 2021
  20. Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers): January 17, 2021
  21. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021
  22. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  23. Nathaniel Hackett (Denver Broncos): January 27, 2022
  24. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  25. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  26. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  27. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  28. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  29. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  30. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  31. Lovie Smith (Houston Texans): February 7, 2022
  32. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022

Saints Envision Jameis Winston Starting Week 1

The Saints were one of the finalists to acquire Deshaun Watson, but they ultimately brought back a familiar face to be their starting quarterback for the immediate future. Jameis Winston is recovering from a torn ACL, but new head coach Dennis Allen plans on him being healthy to start the 2022 season. 

When speaking on the Rich Eisen Show, Allen was asked about Winston’s recovery (video link). “I think he’s doing well in the rehab process” he said, adding that “he’s working his tail off and really doing a really good job in the rehab and I like where he’s at”. That would point to the 28-year-old being ready for the fall, as was reported in March.

When asked if Winston was, as of now, seen as the Week 1 starter, Allen answered, “well… that’s certainly the plan. There’s a lot of days between now and Week 1, but we certainly like where he’s at right now. We like the progress that he’s making… My vision and my hope is that he continues to progress on the same level as he gets another year in the system.”

After a turnover-filled tenure with the Buccaneers, the former No. 1 pick headed to New Orleans as Drew Brees‘ backup. His level of play as the starter last season, though – 1,170 yards, 14 touchdown passes and three interceptions in seven games prior to the injury – earned him a two-year extension. The team also signed veteran Andy Dalton as his backup, and declined to add a developmental signal-caller during the draft.

That leaves Winston as the No. 1 heading into a season which, the Saints hope, can see significant improvement in the passing game. A healthy Michael Thomasfirst-round receiver Chris Olave and, of course, a fully recovered Winston would go a long way to accomplishing that goal.

NFC Coaching Notes: Bears, Vikings, Giants

The post-Sean Payton era has started in New Orleans, with Dennis Allen officially taking over as the Saints new head coach. When speaking about his promotion, Allen mentioned the value of continuity within the franchise.

“I think that was one of the unique things about this job is that this was not a broken job. This is a job that’s a desirable job. This is a job that has a foundation and culture of winning that’s already been built,” Allen said (via ESPN’s Mike Triplett). “I don’t see this as something where we need to have a ton of change.”

While Allen acknowledged that he’ll preach a lot of the lessons he learned from Payton, he also intends to put his “own spin” on the job.

“I want to take the lessons that I’ve learned, I want to build upon those lessons, and I want to create my own legacy here with the New Orleans Saints,” the coach said.

More coaching notes out of the NFC…

  • Andre Curtis is the Bears new safeties coach, the team announced. The 45-year-old has spent the past seven years with the Seahawks, including the past four years as the defensive passing game coordinator. Per the Bears’ website, the Seahawks had six defensive backs earn at least one Pro Bowl nod during Curtis’s stint with Seattle.
  • The Vikings are expecting to hire Chris Kuper as their offensive line coach, reports Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network (via Twitter). Kuper had an eight-year playing career with the Broncos, and following a three-year coaching stint with the Dolphins, he joined the Broncos as their assistant offensive line coach in 2019. He ultimately spent three seasons in Denver.
  • The Vikings are also hiring Chris Rumph as their defensive line coach, per Wilson (on Twitter). The 50-year-old spent the 2021 season in the same role with the Bears, and he’s also had an NFL coaching stint with the Texans.
  • The Giants are hiring Mike Groh as their wide receivers coach, according to Pro Football Talk. Groh spent the past two years as the WRs coach with the Colts, and he had a previous stint with the Eagles that saw him getting promoted to offensive coordinator for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Saints To Name Dennis Allen As New Head Coach

The final head coaching vacancy has been filled. The Saints have informed defensive coordinator Dennis Allen that he’ll be the team’s new head coach, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

Allen was thought to be the favorite for the gig considering his familiarity with the franchise and the continuity he’d provide in a post-Sean Payton era. As SiriusXM’s Adam Caplan reports (on Twitter), Allen isn’t expected to make many (if any) changes to the coaching staff, while Albert Breer of TheMMQB notes (on Twitter) that the new HC also has a strong relationship with the scouting department.

The 49-year-old’s coaching career started in Atlanta, but he took on a bigger role once he moved to New Orleans, eventually becoming their secondary coach (which saw him earn his lone Super Bowl ring). He later became the Broncos defensive coordinator before getting hired as the Raiders head coach in 2012.

His tenure with Oakland didn’t last very long. Early on in his third season in charge, he was fired, and he finished his tenure as head coach with an 8-28 record. Allen ended up returning to the Saints, and after a brief stint as a senior defensive assistant, he became their defensive coordinator in 2015.

In his seven seasons in the role, Allen rehabilitated his image. He was on the HC radar last offseason, and he was a candidate for the Bears head coaching gig this cycle. Once Payton left New Orleans, he seemed like a natural replacement for the Saints. While he received some strong competition from the likes of Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, and former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores (per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter), Allen was ultimately chosen as the 11th full-time head coach in franchise history.

2022 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Last year, seven NFL teams opted to make a head coaching change. Sean Payton stepping away from the Saints created nine full-time vacancies available this year.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 2-7-22 (1:45pm CT)

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

Coaching Rumors: Saints, Texans, McDaniel, Giants, Broncos

The Saints began their cycle of head coaching interviews this week, conducting meetings with the following candidates: former Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson (1/30; hired by Jaguars), former Dolphins’ head coach Brian Flores (2/1), Lions’ defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn (2/2), their current special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi (2/3), their current defensive coordinator Dennis Allen (2/4), and Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy (2/6).

New Orleans also requested permission to interview Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich. There were some early reports that permission had been granted, but that hasn’t been confirmed and nothing has been scheduled, as of yet. ESPN’s Saints’ reporter Mike Triplett also mentioned that current offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael was offered an opportunity to interview for the position, but Carmichael declined. Despite being a part of Sean Payton‘s staff since Payton’s tenure in New Orleans began back in 2006, it appears Carmichael has no interest in running the show in the Big Easy. Whether he has retirement or another destination in mind or he is just comfortable in his role, Carmichael will not be the Saints’ next head coach.

Here are a few more notes from the ongoing coaching searches and staff changes throughout the NFL, starting with the other head coaching vacancy:

  • Houston recently narrowed their list of head coaching candidates down to three: Brian Flores, former quarterback Josh McCown, and Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. Well, according to USA Today’s Josina Anderson, the Texans are now down to two candidates, with Gannon being informed Saturday that he will not be receiving the head coaching position, leaving Flores and McCown as the two remaining names.
  • New Dolphins’ head coach Mike McDaniel reportedly has interest in holding on to some of the defensive assistants currently under contract in Miami, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. This includes current defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, who followed Flores to Miami from New England. The lack of staff turnover would be a positive for a defensive unit that played well during the team’s seven-game win-streak in the back half of the season.
  • The Giants were able to add a piece to Brian Daboll‘s new staff while missing out on another today. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweeted out that Andy Bischoff will become the Giants’ new tight ends coach. Bischoff followed David Culley from Baltimore to Houston and will make the lateral move over from the Texans with their head coaching position still in the air. Unfortunately, the Giants did not get their running backs coach, as Bruce Feldman of The Athletic tweeted out that Deland McCullough has turned down Daboll’s offer, choosing instead to remain the running backs coach at Notre Dame, believing it gives him the best opportunity to eventually become a head coach.
  • New Broncos’ head coach Nathaniel Hackett is also looking to fill out his staff. The Broncos are planning to interview Jon Embree who most recently held the position of tight ends coach/assistant head coach in San Francisco. Embree parted ways with the Niners after being asked to take a 60 percent pay cut after San Francisco’s NFC Championship loss. The man who has coached George Kittle since he was drafted in 2017 would be a nice addition to Hackett’s system.

Doug Pederson Added As A Candidate For Saints’ HC Job

The list of names being linked to the league’s newest head coaching vacancy continues to grow. The Saints have already completed an interview with Doug Pederson, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). 

[Related: Head Coaching Search Tracker]

Rapoport notes that the interview took place on Sunday, making Pederson the fifth candidate whose name has been attached to New Orleans. The 54-year-old has already been listed as a candidate for the jobs in Chicago, Denver, Minnesota and Jacksonville. While the level of interest on each side has differed in all four of those cases – the first two on that list have already hired their new coaches, and Pederson doesn’t appear to be a finalist for the other two openings – the buzz he is generating is certainly notable.

After being fired by the Eagles last year, Pederson was out of the NFL in 2021. There is certainly an interest around the league for the Super Bowl LII champion, though, including from the Saints, who are in catch-up mode relative to the other HC-needy teams.

In a related tweet, Rapoport details the schedule for the other Saints’ interviewees this week. The plan is, apparently, to meet with each of Brian FloresAaron Glenn and Dennis Allen in that order. The only exclusion from that list is Byron Leftwich, whom the team has put in an interview request for.

Here’s an updated look at the Saints’ coaching search: