Dennis Allen's star rising again with Saints' defensive turnaround (1 Viewer)

By Jim Trotter | reporter

The Saints were foundering on defense midway through the 2015 season. After surrendering at least 34 points in three straight games, including 47 or more twice during that span, coach Sean Payton dismissed coordinator Rob Ryan and promoted Dennis Allen, a senior defensive assistant who was seeking to reestablish himself after being fired as coach of the Raiders the previous year.

At his first meeting with the players, Allen stood before the group and outlined a bold yet suspect vision. Instead of being an anchor that weighs down the team, he wanted the defense to at least be the equal of the offense, which under the creative and aggressive play-calling of Payton and the flawless execution of quarterback Drew Brees had ranked in the top 10 in scoring seven of the previous nine seasons.

"We want this team to win because of us, not in spite of us," he said.

That was the plan, but this was the reality: The Saints finished as one of the worst defenses in league history. They allowed 45 touchdown passes and a 116.2 opponent passer rating, marks of ineptitude that represented a 65-year high for a full season. They also gave up an average of 6.65 yards per play, the most of any team in the Super Bowl era.

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