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New Orleans Saints Coach Dennis Allen: 'There were encouraging signs, there were good signs, but overall it wasn't good enough'

Saints made a two-win improvement from 2022

Dennis Allen’s closing message Monday to his New Orleans Saints didn't have much window dressing.

With four wins in their last five regular-season games, including a 48-17 shellacking of Atlanta on Sunday in the Caesars Superdome, the Saints finished 9-8 in Allen's second season as head coach, a two-game improvement from 2022, but not good enough to earn a playoff spot.

New Orleans' playoff hopes went down to the final games: Tampa Bay's victory over Carolina on Sunday gave the Buccaneers (9-8) the NFC South Division title via a better conference record; and victories by Green Bay and Seattle (both 9-8) on Sunday afternoon took away the hope of a wild card berth by the same tiebreaker.

"I was proud of the way our guys continued to fight, I was proud of the way that we finished the season, but I'm pissed that we put ourselves in that position," Allen said. "When you look at where we've been the last three years – at 9-8, 7-10, 9-8 – it's not good enough. So, I think we all have to look at – and everyone in the building is part of the culpability of that – we have to look at what do we need to change.

"And I'm not going to go into any of those details in terms of what changes will occur. But there's things that have to be different. I think that's part of what we have to do this offseason as an organization – players, coaches, front office, everybody. I think we've just got to look at what are we going to do differently. Because we're all part of the problem.

"Now, how are we all going to figure out how we all can be part of the solution. And that's really what this offseason is going to be about."

Allen said conversations with Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis will begin this week. They'll be plentiful and will include Loomis' critiquing of Allen's work. His self-evaluation is that his work hasn't been good enough.

"As the head coach the last two years, at 7-10 and 9-8, it's not what we aspire to be here," Allen said. "I have to do a better job. And I accept that responsibility.

"There's some things that Mickey is going to have for me that he thinks that I can do better at. But I think that's part of the growth process. That's part of the growth process for me as a coach, part of the growth process for us as an organization and for us as a team."

While Allen said this year's team was more competitive than last year's, there's a cultural shift that needs to take place.

"I do think there are some things (that) our mind-set needs to be different," he said. "I've been here for a lot of it and we've had a lot of success around here, and I think sometimes you can kind of get a little comfortable with that. I just think we need to re-evaluate what we need to do to win games at the level that we need to win games at.

"What we've done over the last three years hasn't been good enough, so we've really got to look at how are we going to improve. I think there's a level of commitment with everybody that we can't fall back on what we did in '17, '18, '19, '20. There was a lot that went into that, there was a lot of hard work that went into that.

"We've got to get back to the grind a little bit. That's what happened here in '06, and I think that's what happened here in '17, '18 and '19. And I think we've got to get back to that. And look, we've had some of these successes, a little bit of struggle, and then get back to the success that we've become accustomed to here."

That look was present for much of the last five games, with the Saints posting an average score of 31-11 in the four victories. Quarterback Derek Carr completed 76 percent of his passes for 798 yards and 11 touchdowns, with one interception, in the four wins (14 touchdowns and two interceptions total in the five games) and the defense allowed three touchdowns in the four wins.

But it was the offense finding its footing that mainly stood out.

"It was encouraging to see, and I think in particular this last game from an offensive perspective and the way our offense played in this last game," Allen said. "And what was encouraging to see is some of the young players that we have step up in prominent roles and make plays.

"Guys that are going to need to be core pieces of what we're trying to build here. To see guys like, the one touchdown on the fade route to (rookie receiver) A.T. Perry, I look out there and it's A.T. Perry, it's (second-year receiver) Rashid Shaheed, it's (second-year receiver) Chris Olave and it's (rookie running back) Kendre Miller are the core skill players that are on the field at that particular time. Having some of those young guys being able to step up gives you confidence as you move forward."

But, Allen said, bottom line is that the Saints' season has ended.

"Overall there were encouraging signs, there were good signs, but overall it wasn't good enough," he said.

Allen said the Saints will look to add young pieces to the roster, that he believes the team has a good veteran presence of players who still can perform at a high level.

And, as he had a season-ending message to his team, he was asked if he had a season-ending message for Saints fans.

"My message would be that I appreciate the fans that we have," Allen said. "Because I do think that we have some of the best fans in all of pro sports. And I do think there's a connection between our fans and this city.

"And I would say, much like the New Orleans Saints have done over the past 20 years, 15 years, we've battled through some hard times and we've come out on the other side of the storm. And I fully expect us to come out on the other side of the storm again."

Check out the game action shots from the New Orleans Saints game against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 18 of the 2023 NFL season.