The Raiders will head to New Orleans to meet up with the Saints this Friday in their second preseason game. Facing the Saints is no coincidence. It's where Dennis Allen spent most of his coaching days. It's where he won a Super Bowl as a defensive backs coach under Sean Payton.
This is the first time Allen will face his former head coach with the Saints. The Raiders played the Saints at home last season but Payton was suspended the entire season as a result of the Bounty scandal. There's no question the Saints are a different team with Payton at the helm.
"Sean's a heck of a football coach," said Allen. "I've learned a lot from him just as far as how he handles a football team, what his demeanor is and the swagger that he brings to his team. I think you'll see a different New Orleans Saints football team this year with having him back. That's where I feel like, in New Orleans, in those five years, that's where I feel like I really grew up as a football coach in the National Football League. It'll be fun to go back. It'll be fun to get a chance to see some of those guys. I'll get to talk to Sean and bounce a few ideas off of him and see what he has to say."
Allen left the Saints initially to become the defensive coordinator in Denver under John Fox. He, of course, face Fox twice last season (and lost both times). Allen's rise was quick. He spent just one season with the Broncos before getting the call from the Raiders to be their new head coach.
The Raiders have been in a steady rebuilding mode since he arrived including twice revamping the secondary -- Allen's specialty. This season's revamp includes the likes of Tracy Porter and Usama Young; both of whom played on the Saints Super Bowl winning team.
Aside from the reunion of Allen and Payton, the Saints' dynamic offense will provide a great test for Porter and the rest of the Raiders rebuilt defense.
"[The Saints] present a lot of challenges offensively in the way that they match up their personnel, their tempo on offense, the things that they do in the running game and in the passing game, so it'll be a great test for us," said Allen. "We're looking forward to the opportunity, and we'll see how it goes on Friday night."
So far Allen is 0-4 in regular season games against his former teams (Falcons, Broncos, Saints) and 0-2 against his former head coaches (John Fox ). He has yet to get the better of his former teams or his mentors. This is just a preseason game but you can bet he would very much like to show Sean Payton he is a worthy opponent.