The news of Sean Payton leaving the New Orleans Saints came seemingly out of nowhere. The former Super Bowl-winning head coach may have been noncommittal to the franchise going forward but with three years remaining on his deal and a long history of success, all signs pointed to Payton taking his time before returning.
Now, however, he’s officially decided to step down as the Saints head coach. Reports of Payton’s decision were first reported by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
While his decision could set the franchise back for years to come, in order for the Saints to avoid disaster and bring stability where it needs it most, defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is the perfect man to replace him.
Since nabbing the defensive gig in New Orleans in 2015, Allen has helped lead one of the league’s best units. Over the past four seasons, the Saints ranked in the top 15 in opposing team’s points per game. In 2020 and 2021, the Saints have ended their year in the top five.
Unsurprisingly, the rest of the league has taken notice. And, as of today, Allen was scheduled to interview with the Chicago Bears for their head coaching vacancy. Though Allen was widely unsuccessful during his previous tenure as a head coach for the Oakland Raiders from 2012 to 2014, putting together a record of 8-28 before being shown the door, he’s grown tremendously with Payton by his side.
Presently, the Saints have a ton of questions marks everywhere. Will Michael Thomas repair his relationship with the franchise and return to the field? Will they re-sign Jameis Winston? What about Taysom Hill? Will there do it all player be severely limited following his Lisfranc injury? And, of course, what will the franchise do with their now-vacant head coaching position?
The questions around this franchise will persist throughout the entire offseason. Nonetheless, the Saints have already placed a target on the back of Allen, as he’s been tabbed their number one priority.
Losing a head coach of Payton’s caliber can be devastating but if the Saints can lock up Allen now, he’ll be able to right the ship.