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John DeShazier: Dennis Allen focused on putting players in position 'to make some plays'

New Saints defensive coordinator says you can't make wholesale changes midseason

Dennis Allen won't bring to the position of defensive coordinator any magic potions or miracle solutions to helping the New Orleans Saints achieve the defensive improvement that, for the most part, has been absent this season.

"One of the things we're focusing on is playing the game the right way and playing with that effort and that intensity, that tenacity that you've got to play the game of defense with," Allen said Wednesday in his first address to the media since being named Saints defensive coordinator on Nov. 16, after Rob Ryan was relieved of his duties.

"We're going into Week 11 of the season, so it's not like you can just go in and just wholeheartedly change everything you're doing schematically. What we've got to do is, try to give the guys a plan that they can go out and execute, try to eliminate some of the white noise and the distractions for them, make sure that they feel comfortable and ready to play.

"And then they've got to go out and execute and they've got to play. We'll do the best we can to put them in position to make some plays, and when they've got an opportunity to make a play, they've got to go make a play."

The play-making obviously has been lacking for a Saints defense that is last in the league in points (31.5) and yards (424.3) allowed per game. New Orleans has forced 13 turnovers, and opposing quarterbacks have completed 67 percent of their pass attempts for 3,081 yards, with 28 touchdowns, four interceptions and a passer rating of 116.6.

The Saints (4-6) next play the Texans (5-5) on Sunday in Houston at NRG Stadium.

"All of us – players, coaches, everybody – we've all got our autograph on where we're at right now as a football team and specifically, as a defense," Allen said. "We've got to work to try to change that image and that picture, and I've been pleased with what the guys have done so far.

"We're working hard this week, and worked hard over the bye week, to try to get some things corrected and hopefully, it'll show on Sunday."

Players said the transition from to Allen was seamless. Allen, who was head coach in Oakland for the 2012-13 seasons and the first four games of 2014 before he was relieved of his duties, was hired during the offseason as senior defensive assistant.

"It's not like we're meeting a new face," safety Kenny Vaccaro said. "So it's not a hard transition."

But Allen said he understood the sensitivity of the situation, having gone through it himself.

"Obviously, it's a difficult situation to be in, for everybody that's involved," he said. "I have strong feelings for Rob Ryan and the type of individual he is, and I know that it's tough when you have a situation like this because families are involved. I think we all understand the business – I went through the same thing last year.

"It's part of this business, it's part of what we have to deal with but we've got to move forward. I'm looking forward to the opportunity, excited about getting a chance to hopefully improve this defense."

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