The Saints dropped to 3-7 after a dreadful display against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, and there is simply only one takeaway that matters after another putrid defeat. Dennis Allen is not the answer for the Saints, and he should not be the coach after this season. Below I explain why.
Dennis Allen Is Not It
At the start of this season, there were very high expectations for this Saints team. Michael Thomas was back. They signed Jarvis Landry and Tyrann Mathieu. Brought back pretty much all of the coaching staff that had been a part of the very successful 2017-2021 seasons.
The NFC looked weak, and so did the division. The runway was clear for a much-improved season after the injury-riddled 2021 season ended, with the team still winning nine games. How could this team be worse than that one with all the additions to an already talented roster?
One element was drastically overlooked, replacing a hall-of-fame level HC in with a coach who, in his first stint as an HC was fired after 2.5 seasons with an 8-28 record. Going from Sean Payton to Dennis Allen has not only not worked this season but has also set this team back for years to come.
The word of the off-season was continuity the Saints wanted to keep around the people that had helped Sean Payton build one of the winningest franchises during his tenure. In theory, this is not a bad plan. However, where this ultimately is a fatal floor, and this is the same with most coaches who come from the Belichick coaching tree as well. You can’t try to maintain the same culture the hall of fame HC did without that HC around to enforce and implement it.
Saints Twitter has been on fire since the first few weeks of the season with the mantra that DA is not the answer, I’ve tried to remain patient and make excuses to myself why things will improve. Injuries are the biggest excuse to rationalise the poor performances and to convince me things could and would improve.
After Sunday’s performance, my patience ran out. Yes, there were again a monumental number of injuries to key starters. However, the bigger issues with this team, which have been present since the start of the season, are still present and still causing the team to lose.
At some point, that must come down to the HC, and for me, Sunday was my breaking point. Fundamentals are coached, and a culture of accountability for basic mistakes comes down to the coaches. For that to still not be in place ten weeks into the season is flat-out malpractice.
This team misses tackles constantly, sometimes turning minimal gains into huge ones and sometimes turning plays that should be a loss into plays that net positive yardage. Whichever way you slice it, basic tackles are not being made, and it’s been a consistently frustrating issue all season that should have been addressed and stamped out by now.
The defense is Dennis Allen’s side of the ball, and for that side of the ball to have been the biggest issue of all, with the talent they have, the blame can only go to one person.
The Saints are tied for third as the most penalised team in the league (72 penalties), have some of those calls been questionable? Absolutely, for example, I think all three DPI calls on Sunday against the Steelers were pretty poor calls, but it’s clear officiating has been inconsistent across the whole league.
However, the Saints lead are tied for the most False Start penalties in the league with 19 and are, by far, in a way leading the league in defensive holding penalties with a massive 15. The next closest is Green Bay, with 11. After that, it’s the Colts with 9. For perspective, the Chargers led the league last season with 15 defensive holding penalties across the 17-game season. The Saints are one behind that now, after only playing ten games.
Yes, some of these penalties are being committed by backups, but at this stage, they’ve had to play enough snaps due to injury that this should be stamped out by now, or they simply should not be playing. Calvin Throckmorton alone has accounted for five false start penalties, FIVE! He’s hardly a star on this team. Honestly, he’s not played at all well in his snaps this season. So, bench him, make an example that these mistakes won’t be tolerated, and do something to send a message that things have to change.
This all comes back to the HC. Is it fair to put all the blame on him? No, probably not this team has faced an ungodly amount of injuries that would be hard for anyone to overcome, including Payton. But my issue with the Dennis Allen operation is the inability to fix the problems that have been evident all season, and he’s shown a complete inability to do so.
Would these problems with false starts, missed tackles, etc.. still be a problem if Sean Payton remained the coach? in my opinion, absolutely not.
Dennis Allen was an excellent DC for this team, something that I never thought I’d say after the Saints went through many legendary failures to find a competent DC over the years. Unfortunately, DA is not the answer as an HC, and because of this and the front office’s blind faith in him, they have set the team back for years to come. How you might ask?
Well, because of misguided faith, the Saints traded away their first-round pick for the upcoming draft, which at this stage, they will be lucky if it’s not in the top 10, it could easily be in the top 5. In a draft, many are touting to have 4/5 top-tier QB prospects. With a first-round pick this year, the Saints could have hit the reset button on the franchise in the best way possible, but finding a young QB to build around, a young QB to give the fans hope.
Instead, we get to hear all off-season how the juggernaut Eagles team with very few holes, who made it deep into the playoffs, an Eagles team who may well win the SuperBowl pulled off the heist of the century and because of it, are now picking in the top 10.
Unfortunately, firing DA would only be the start. The Saints need to then dip into the tombola of luck that is the HC hiring cycle, where it’s much easier to find the next Dennis Allen than it is to find the next Sean Payton. With no first-round pick, an aging roster, one of the worst cap outlooks in the league, and, crucially, no answer at QB. The list of potential suitors is likely to be shorter than it once would have been.
Sorry if you’re reading this, and I was hoping for a more positive outlook. I’ve tried that all season, and after Sunday, enough is enough. Buckle up Saints fans. The next few years could be a bumpy ride but don’t worry too much we are all going through this pain together.
For more Saints articles- https://www.full10yards.co.uk/saints/
Please let me know your feedback on this article and the others throughout the season. I’m always looking to improve and add things that people want to read about!
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @SaintsReportUK, for much more Saints content and discussion.