Saints shuffle staff, hire ex-Raiders coach Dennis Allen as assistant
Saints coach Sean Payton added seven assistants to his staff and shifted responsibilities for some who remain from last season's team that went 7-9 and missed the playoffs.
Payton hired former Oakland coach Dennis Allen as senior defensive assistant, John Morton as wide receivers coach, Joel Thomas as running backs coach and James Willis as defensive assistant focused on linebackers. Also added are Kyle DeVan and Greg Lewis as offensive assistants and Brendan Nugent as a coaching assistant.
Dan Roushar, who coached running backs last season, is moving to tight ends coach. He replaces Terry Malone, who was fired after last season. Morton replaces Henry Ellard. Brian Young, a defensive assistant last season, now will work more closely with outside linebackers.
Allen is a former Saints defensive assistant who left New Orleans to become Denver's defensive coordinator and then served as coach of the Raiders from 2012 until he was fired last season. He'll now work alongside defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, whose defense ranked fourth in the NFL in 2013, but fell to 31st last season in yards allowed (384 per game).
Morton also has been part of Payton's staff in New Orleans, serving as an offensive assistant focused on the passing game in 2006, when the Saints advanced to the NFC title game. He has coached receivers the last three seasons in San Francisco.
Thomas comes to New Orleans after spending the past two seasons with Arkansas. He has spent his coaching career primarily at the college level, but was a training camp intern with the Saints in 2012.
Willis, who played seven seasons in the NFL, has spent the past two seasons as defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. He also worked as an assistant on one of Alabama coach Nick Saban's national championship defenses, coaching linebackers on the 2009 squad.
DeVan is a former NFL lineman who spent last season as a graduate assistant at California, while Lewis is a former NFL receiver who coached receivers at the college level for Pittsburgh in 2014.
Nugent spent the last two seasons as a quality control assistant with the Chicago Bears and before that worked in the CFL and on several college staffs.