Time constraints won't allow for there to be the total installation of a new defense for the New Orleans Saints under Dennis Allen, who became New Orleans' defensive coordinator nine days ago, when Coach Sean Payton relieved Rob Ryan of his duties.
The Saints don't have the luxury of having an entire offseason to implement a drastic change. Rather, Allen will have less than two weeks to add some of the twists and tweaks he hopes to see in Sunday's game against the Texans in Houston.
And yet, Payton said, the belief is that there will be enough change so that the Saints won't continue to post results that, so far, have them last in the league in scoring defense (31.5 points per game allowed) and yards allowed (424.3).
"Any time there's someone new overseeing the process, there's bound to be some change," Payton said. "But there are a handful of things that Dennis and I visited about after (the change), and moving forward, that he wants to implement.
"There are some things that aren't really scheme-related that need to be cleaned up. But there's going to be a flavor for certain things that might be a little different than what has been the last half of the season. I don't think you can, at this point, toss everything out. There are certain things that we're going to do, but it might be how we're doing them and who we're doing them with."
This year, Allen, who was hired this offseason as senior defensive assistant, already had overseen the implementation of the third-down defensive packages for the Saints. Opponents currently are converting 34.8 percent on third down, 11.2 percent lower than last season's 46 percent.
"D.A. is a veteran, sharp coach and I think a real bright guy," Payton said. "He's done a very good job in the nickel and on the third-down packages, much better than we were a year ago. I think along those lines, he's going to take the same approach when it comes to the defense in its entirety. I think there are a handful of things that will be different."
While the Saints were able to make some changes from last season, in terms of reducing the playbook, there remained areas of alarm.
"There were a few things that you looked at from a year ago, and you said, 'We can't have X number of snaps with not the right number of guys on the field. We can't burn timeouts every other week because we can't get the right personnel on the field. We just can't do that. We can't have guys looking left and right at the snap of the ball,' " Payton said.
"There was a game last season where the first eight plays of the game, we're misaligned and we don't even cover down the right way. Those are just facts. We had to look at, teams offensively have changed.
"We've got to find a way to reduce the variation on defense, and we've got to find a way to get a call in and play a defense without it being a panic or where guys are late getting lined up. That was a big thing a year ago.
"A lot of that is the ability to communicate quickly what we're seeing and what we want to get done and then make the call. The first opportunity to play good defense is to be set and ready and know what the call is. I think that will be the first thing that we're going to work tirelessly on, getting them set, getting them aligned and then all 11 to the football."
Payton said that parting ways with Ryan, who orchestrated the 2013 defense that was fourth in the league in points and yards allowed, was a difficult, but necessary, step for this season.
"Obviously, you hate to be making a decision like that, especially during the middle of the season," he said. "But it had gotten to a point where, something needed to change. I just felt in my gut that we needed something different. I hate to see that he wasn't successful, but there were a ton of consistent things that were happening that weren't getting better, and I think a lot of them culminated in that Washington game.
"That being said, there's a bit of every one of us that has to be better. We didn't convert some short-yardage situations and stay on the field long enough, we've got to do a better job protecting the football. There are a handful of things that all go hand in hand to playing good football offensively and defensively, but there were far too many things to just ignore."
Allen, a member of Payton's original staff in 2006, was a practical hire during the offseason, an addition to potentially help aid a defensive revival, rather than a replacement-in-waiting for Ryan, Payton said.
"You wouldn't approach a season with, 'I need a contingency plan' " he said. "If that were the case, you'd execute the contingency plan to begin with. Rob's a talented coach and there's no one more than me that wanted to see him have success.
"And yet, for us to be able to hire Dennis – we go all the way back to '06 – we felt like he was a valuable assistant that was available to us, and someone that brings clarity, organization skills. He's very thorough, very meticulous, (and) he's got great command and respect in the building. That hire was an easy one in regards to knowing the coach."