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Saints announce six offensive coaching hires

Six assistants will join New Orleans coaching staff


New Orleans Saints Head Coach Dennis Allen has announced that the club has added six assistants to his staff, hiring John Benton as offensive line coach, Rick Dennison as senior offensive assistant, Derrick Foster as running backs coach, Andrew Janocko as quarterbacks coach, DeNarius McGhee as assistant wide receivers coach and Keith Williams as wide receivers coach.

Benton has 33 years of coaching experience, including 19 in the NFL. Of the offensive lines he has directed since 2004, seven seasons those teams have finished in the top ten in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Benton's previous league stops include the New York Jets (2021-22), San Francisco 49ers (2017-20), Jacksonville Jaguars (2016), Miami Dolphins (2014-15), Houston Texans (2006-13) and St. Louis Rams (2004-05).

Over Benton's four seasons in San Francisco (2017-20) as the offensive line coach, the 49ers produced the fourth-most rushing yards in the league, with top ten rushing offenses in each of his last three seasons, including the league's number one rushing attack in 2019 en route to Super Bowl LIV. In his time with the 49ers, three different running backs – Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and Matt Breida – all averaged over 4.40 yards per carry on at least 200 attempts, one of only two teams in the league with at least three such players. In the passing game, the offensive line protected QB Jimmy Garoppolo, who finished fourth in yards per attempt (8.2), fifth in completion percentage (67.5%) and ninth in passer rating (98.6) among quarterbacks with at least 25 starts from 2018-20.

Prior to the NFL, Benton spent 17 years coaching at the collegiate level. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Colorado State University (1987-90), before moving on to California University (Pa.) (1990-94), where he served as offensive line coach/recruiting coordinator. He returned to Colorado State in 1995, spending nine years as offensive line coach (1995-99) and co-offensive coordinator (2000-03).

A four-year starter as an offensive lineman at Colorado State (1983-86), Benton earned honorable mention All-WAC honors during his junior and senior seasons.

Dennison joins the Saints staff with 27 years of NFL coaching experience, serving 19 of the last 21 seasons as a coordinator or offensive line coach. During his time in the NFL, Dennison has helped coach teams to 13 playoff appearances, five division titles and three Super Bowl victories. Dennison has also coached 18 different Pro Bowl players at seven different positions, including six offensive linemen. In Dennison's time as an offensive line coach and offensive coordinator, his rushing offenses have averaged 2,056 yards a season (128.1 ypg.) and 4.4 yards per carry, while producing 14.8 touchdowns a season.

Prior to joining the Saints, Dennison served three seasons on the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff from 2019-21. Dennison's NFL coaching experience also includes stints with the New York Jets (2018), Buffalo Bills (2017), Baltimore Ravens (2014), Houston Texans (2010-2013) and two stints with the Denver Broncos (1995-2009, 2015-2016).

Dennison served as offensive line coach/run game coordinator with Minnesota from 2019-20 and as senior offensive advisor in 2021. In 2019, the 28 sacks the Vikings surrendered were tied for the fifth-lowest total in the NFL and tied for the eighth-lowest total in franchise history, paving the way for a rushing attack that gained 2,133 yards (sixth in the NFL). Running behind Dennison's offensive line from 2019-20, RB Dalvin Cook ranked first in the NFC and second in the NFL in both rushing yards (3,851) and rushing touchdowns (35) and was selected to the Pro Bowl both seasons. In 2019, Cook became the franchise's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2015 (1,135). Cook's 1,557 rushing yards in 2020 ranked second in the NFL and produced a balanced offensive attack that ranked fourth in the league in net yards per game, up 12 spots from 2018, marking the highest ranking for the club since 2004.

As a player, Dennison played nine NFL seasons as a linebacker for the Denver Broncos, appearing in 128 regular season games (52 starts) and totaling 514 tackles, 6.5 sacks, four interceptions, six forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries and played in three Super Bowls. Dennison played collegiately at Colorado State University, earning three varsity letters and was named second-team Academic All-American as a senior.

Foster will tutor the Saints running backs, having spent the last three seasons in the same position with the Los Angeles Chargers. Under the direction of Foster, RB Austin Ekeler totaled 44 regular-season scrimmage touchdowns (20 in 2021, 18 in 2022 and six in 2023), ranking first in the NFL over that span and leading the league in his first two seasons. Ekeler added a pair of rushing touchdowns in the 2022 AFC Wild Card Playoff at Jacksonville, making him the seventh player in NFL history to register back-to-back seasons with 20 touchdowns (regular and postseason combined). Ekeler's 228 receptions for 1,805 yards with 14 touchdowns led NFL running backs in catches and receiving yardage over the three-season span under Foster's tutelage, while tying for first in touchdown grabs.

Foster joined the Chargers in 2021 after spending three seasons at the University of Iowa (2018-20), including the 2020 campaign as running backs coach/offensive recruiting coordinator. In 2020, under Foster's mentorship, Tyler Goodson, now with the Indianapolis Colts, was named first-team All-Big Ten by both media and conference coaches, after carrying 143 times for 812 yards (5.3 avg.) with seven touchdowns in a an eight-game COVID-abbreviated season.

Prior to his three-year stint in Iowa City, Foster served two seasons as the run game coordinator/running backs coach at Samford University (2016-17) and three years at Northwestern State University (2013-15). The Goshen Ala. native entered the coaching ranks in 2011 as an offensive assistant at Valdosta State University, before helping to guide the running backs group at the University of Tennessee in 2012 in a similar position.

Foster played running back and wide receiver at Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University, where he started 41-of-44 career games at wideout and finished his career with 2,062 all-purpose yards. He graduated in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in sports management and went on to earn a master's degree in public administration from Valdosta State in 2013.

Janocko (pronounced juh-NO-co) has 13 years of coaching experience, 11 in the National Football League, including the last two as quarterbacks coach of the Chicago Bears. Over the past two seasons, Janocko was instrumental in the development of Bears signal-caller Justin Fields, who completed 419-of-688 (60.9%) passes for 4,804 yards with 33 touchdown passes, while carrying 284 times for 1,800 yards (6.3 avg.) with 12 touchdowns in 28 starts. In Week 14 of the 2023 season, Fields became the second-fastest quarterback in NFL history to reach 2,000 rushing yards in just 36 games and only the third signal-caller with at least 2,000 rushing yards in his first three seasons. In 2023, despite playing in two fewer games than 2022 due to injuries, Fields improved in most major passing categories, while completing 227-of-370 (61.4%) passes for 2,562 yards with 16 touchdowns and a 86.3 passer rating, while carrying 124 times for 657 yards with four touchdowns. The Bears improved their victory total from three in 2022 to seven in 2023, as Fields won four of his final six starts.

Fields finished 2022 with eight rushing touchdowns and 1,143 rushing yards over 15 starts, becoming one of three quarterbacks in NFL history to rush for 1,000 or more yards in a single season, joining Lamar Jackson and Michael Vick. He also completed 192-of-318 (60.4%) passes for 2,242 yards and 17 touchdowns on the season, while posting a passer rating of at least 92.0 in five of eight starts from Weeks 8-17.

Prior to his time in Chicago, Janocko spent seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, coaching with the offensive line (2017-19) and serving as wide receivers coach (2020) and quarterbacks coach (2021).

In 2021, Janocko helped veteran QB Kirk Cousins throw for 4,221 yards with 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 103.1 passer rating, as he was named to his third Pro Bowl. Cousins' passer rating ranked fourth-best in the NFL and he was one of only two quarterbacks in 2021 to throw for over 30 touchdowns with fewer than ten interceptions.

With Janocko as his position coach in 2020, first-round draft pick Justin Jefferson had one of the greatest seasons by a rookie receiver in NFL history. Jefferson set the rookie receiving record with 1,400 yards, becoming the NFL's first rookie receiver to earn AP All-Pro honors since Randy Moss in 1998 and was tabbed to his first Pro Bowl. Veteran wideout Adam Thielen established a career-high 14 touchdown catches.

Janocko began his coaching career in 2011 as a graduate assistant at Rutgers. He entered the NFL as an offensive quality control coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13) before working as quarterbacks coach at Mercyhurst University in 2014.

As a player, Janocko was a three-year letterwinner as a backup quarterback and holder on special teams at Pittsburgh from 2007-10. The Clearfield, Pa. native was selected to the Big East All-Academic Team three times and graduated in 2010 with a degree in history and a minor in political science.

McGhee comes to New Orleans as a ten-year coaching veteran. He arrives after serving as an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans from 2020-23.

McGhee was part of a Texans coaching staff in 2023 that helped Houston improve from a 3-13-1 record in 2022 to winning the AFC South division title and capturing an AFC Wild Card Playoff victory over Cleveland. As a team, Houston finished the regular season with the fewest giveaways in the NFL (14) and its passing attack ranked second in the NFL in pass plays over 25 yards (41). Houston's offensive attack blossomed with the development of several key offensive contributors. Rookie QB C.J. Stroud captured AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, completing 319-of-499 passes for 4,108 yards, 23 touchdowns and a 100.8 passer rating. A pair of young wideouts also developed in Nico Collins and Tank Dell. In his third season, Collins had the best season of his career with 80 catches for 1,297 yards and eight touchdowns with a franchise-record 25 20-plus yard receptions. As a rookie, Dell finished with 47 receptions for 709 yards and seven touchdowns through the first 11 games before suffering a season-ending injury.

McGhee came to Houston after three seasons (2017-19) on staff at his alma mater, Montana State. He coached quarterbacks in 2017 and running backs from 2018-19, capped off by an 11-win campaign in 2019 that marked the Bobcats' first season with double-digit wins since McGhee quarterbacked the team in 2012. McGhee also served as a recruiting coordinator in 2019. He spent two seasons (2015-16) as a graduate assistant at North Carolina State after beginning his coaching career as a quality control coach at Florida Atlantic in 2014.

A four-year starting quarterback at Montana State who was recently selected to the school's Athletic Hall of Fame, The Euless, Texas native stands as the school's all-time winningest quarterback, holds program records in career passing yards (11,203) and touchdowns (79) and remains the only player in program history to win Big Sky Conference MVP twice (2010 and 2012). He led the Bobcats to conference championships from 2010-12 and garnered All-American recognition as a freshman (2010) and junior (2012). McGhee graduated with a bachelor's degree in business management and marketing.

Williams comes to New Orleans after spending the past three seasons on the offensive coaching staff of the Baltimore Ravens, serving as assistant wide receivers coach in 2023. Prior to joining the Ravens in 2021, the Stockton, Calif. native came to the National Football League having 18 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level, while also working as a personal wide receivers coach for a number of top NFL wideouts, including All-Pros Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill.

In 2023, Williams worked with Ravens Wide Receivers Coach Greg Lewis to tutor a unit that contributed to Baltimore ranking fourth in the NFL in scoring (28.4 ppg.) and sixth in total offense (370.4 ypg.). Zay Flowers, the club's first round pick, set rookie franchise marks in catches (77) and receiving yards (858), adding six touchdowns (five receiving and one rushing).

From 2021-22, Williams served as Baltimore's pass game specialist. In 2022, Williams helped guide WR Devin Duvernay to career-bests in receptions (37), receiving yards (407) and receiving touchdowns (three), while Demarcus Robinson also finished with a career-best 48 catches. In 2021, Williams contributed to scheming a passing attack that made the league's biggest improvement (+61.8 ypg.) from 2020 with Marquise Brown enjoying a breakout campaign with 91 receptions for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns.

Prior to his first professional experience as wide receivers coach of the AAF's San Antonio franchise in 2019, Williams mentored wide receivers for 18 years at the college level, including time with Nebraska (2015-17) and Tulane (2012-14).

Williams played wideout for San Diego State from 1991-93, while also competing on the Aztecs' track & field team, finishing with a bronze medal (10.31) in the 100M at the Western Athletic Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Following his college career, Williams signed an NFL rookie free agent contract with Washington in 1994, before playing for the Frankfurt Galaxy of the World League in the spring of 1995 and then the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League from 1995-96.

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