Dennis Allen has a huge opportunity ahead of him in Week 15

Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen will get his chance to serve as head coach against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 15.

After Sean Payton tested positive for Covid-19 on Friday, Allen will assume main coaching duties come game time on Sunday.

The 2021 season marks Allen’s second stint in New Orleans and his sixth full season as the team’s defensive coordinator.

Allen was a head coach for the Raiders for three years from 2012 to 2014, but Week 15’s game will be his first time serving as head coach for the NOLA Saints.

It’s been a long time coming.

Since returning to NOLA in 2015, Allen has taken the Saints’ defense to new heights: New Orleans’ run defense has ranked in the league’s top-five in the past three seasons, and the team has also finished at the top in other major defensive categories.

On Payton, absence, Allen told reporters in a presser on Friday:

"“You know, Sean’s our leader and he’s the guy that’s been running the show around here. So, it’ll be a lot different. It’ll be a big challenge without him being there (in Tampa Bay).”"

New Orleans Saints’ Dennis Allen will prove his coaching chops in Week 15

But Allen also relayed hope that the Saints are well-equipped and prepared to take on Tampa:

"“We know what’s expected of us. Every single one of us, every coach, player, and staff member knows what’s expected of us. Our job’s to go out there on Sunday and perform. That’s what we plan on doing.”"

Against the Bucs, the Saints will need every kernel of defensive knowledge Dennis Allen can give them.

Not having Payton on the sidelines no doubt will be a strange sight, but Allen is the next-best option for the Saints right now.

Brady’s Bucs head into the matchup as the huge favorites, but NOLA could pull away with a surprising upset. The game will hinge on the Saints’ run defense and secondary as NOLA tries to stop Leonard Fournette and a high-octane receiver room of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.

Next. 3 players who need to step up for the Saints to make the playoffs. dark

Allen has been crucial to the development of this Saints team through the last half decade, and his expertise and play-calling will be even more crucial now.