The more time passes the more it looks like Dan Campbell is the one who got away. The former New Orleans Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach has risen to prominence while rebuilding the Detroit Lions and leading them to their greatest season in decades, and players around the league have taken notice. The same can’t be said for Saints head coach Dennis Allen, Campbell’s former peer in New Orleans.
85 players participated in The Athletic’s anonymous survey covering a variety of topics, but this one caught out eye. Players were asked: Which current coach, aside from your own, would you want to play for?
And not a single one brought up Allen’s name. But a lot of them like Campbell, who placed just Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid for the fourth-most votes (8.3% of the total). Mike Tomlin (26.4%), Mike McDaniel (14.6%), and Andy Reid (10.4%) received more votes than any other coaches around the league. 16 head coaches and five defensive coordinators received votes, so half the league’s head coaches are not exactly seen as sources of inspiration — including Allen.
Of Campbell, one player was quoted as saying, “I appreciate coaches that are players’ coaches and get the best out of their players.”
It’s not too surprising that players are drawn to Campbell. He has built a competitive team and successfully installed a winning culture with an organization that has never known much success; he’s already 20-23-1 as Lions head coach. Allen took over a talented Saints team that had won its division in three of the last four years and has since struggled to maintain a .500 record, much less win enough games to get anyone’s hopes up for the playoffs. They’re 12-15 with Allen as head coach, who is 20-43 in his NFL career going back to his time with the Raiders.
Hopefully Allen can turn that perception around by keeping hold of the NFC South title; the Saints are currently in first place in the division and they’re coming out of the bye week with a very winnable seven-game stretch ahead of them. If Allen can’t get this team to the postseason with his handpicked quarterback in place and a largely-healthy roster at his disposal (plus the easiest slate of opponents in the league), the Saints will have to seriously consider going in a new direction with their organization, starting with Allen’s job as head coach.
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