New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton announced on his Monday night radio show that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has been relieved of his duties.
Senior defensive assistant Dennis Allen will become the new defensive coordinator.
Allen, a former defensive line coach (2006-07) and secondary coach (2008-10) for the Saints, defensive coordinator (2011) for the Denver Broncos and head coach (2012-14) of the Oakland Raiders, takes over a defense that currently is last in the NFL in scoring defense (31.5 points per game) and yards allowed (424.7).
Opposing quarterbacks this season have completed 66.7 percent of their passes against the Saints (4-6), for 2,931 yards and 28 touchdowns, with four interceptions. In the last three games – a victory over the Giants and losses to the Titans and Redskins – quarterbacks Eli Manning, Marcus Mariota and Kirk Cousins combined to throw 14 touchdowns and no interceptions.
"(Allen) will be handling everything from A to Z, and recognizing it's a tough challenge for him coming in midstride," Payton said on WWL-870. "He's been on the defensive staff, he's seen the direction we've gone and he recognizes we've got to get a few guys back from injury. But he's someone that I'm very familiar with.
"I'm disappointed for Rob that it didn't work out. He's a fantastic staff guy, he's a guy that was respected greatly not only in the locker room, but by his peers. We just had to, at some point, look closely and begin to at least give this an option. Because the direction we were going wasn't good.
"We really struggled with substitutions, getting lined up, getting our guys the defensive call and being able to function. Dennis and I have met and talked at length about what direction we want to head, and we'll spend some time during this bye making sure that that's a priority."
In Ryan's first season, 2013, he directed a Saints defense that finished fourth in the league in points (19) and yards (305.7) allowed, respectively. Those numbers dipped to No. 31 in total defense (384) and No. 26 in scoring (26.5) last year, and further slid to the current totals.
"It'd be easy to point to one specific thing," Payton said. "It's never that. It's never one specific thing. We certainly want to be healthier. I think, looking at it from a coaching perspective, we've got to be better. We've got to look closely at the things that we do, what we feel like we do well, and improve in those areas. We have to be better moving forward here in this next stretch of six games.
"As a head coach, absolutely there's responsibility and it starts with me. The years where we've had success and won, they've stretched through multiple coordinators. Those years where we've been very successful, typically you're going to find a better balance, you're going to find a better defense and certainly, you're efficiently running the football."
Earlier Monday, when asked if Ryan still was on staff, Payton replied in the affirmative.
"We made a change, and it just didn't time up with when I was meeting with the media," he said. "It had gotten reported earlier, and I basically said at 11:30 (a.m.), 'We haven't arrived at that decision.' Later this afternoon, we did."