Saints' Dennis Allen assuming he's returning as coach

METAIRIE, La. -- New Orleans Saints coach Dennis Allen said he's moving forward with the assumption that he will be the team's head coach in 2023.

Allen said he spoke to Saints general manager Mickey Loomis following the conclusion of the season on Sunday. The Saints finished 7-10 and third in the NFC South in Allen's first season.

It was the Saints' first losing season since they went 7-9 under former coach Sean Payton in 2016 and brings Allen's overall record as a head coach to 15-38, including his stint with the Oakland Raiders from 2012-14.

"I don't think there's any need to discuss that any further," Allen said when asked if he needed clarification from Loomis about his job status. "And I'm certainly going forward with that anticipation, that's the indication that I've been given. And I'm excited about it. Look, again, 7-10's not where we want to be. But we're not as far off as maybe some might think."

He added: "I think there's a young nucleus of players that I think we can build on going forward. I was pleased with the way that we kind of changed the tide a little bit defensively. The last half of the season I thought we were one of the better defenses in our league. So, I think there's some foundational pieces that we can build on. Certainly, we've gotta do a better job of finishing. ... I think there were some opportunities for us to close some games out, finish some games, we didn't get that done. So, I think that's gonna be an area, that if we can learn how to finish games and close some of those games out, not only this season but seasons in the future will be different."

Allen has not sat down with Saints owner Gayle Benson yet but said that he feels like he has her full support.

"We've talked throughout the season. I feel like I've got Mrs. B's support," Allen said. "She's been nothing but outstanding for us. And I'm sure that at some point we'll sit down and visit. But no, I have not specifically sat down with her after the season and went through a rehash of the season."

Allen said there's no timetable for any potential staffing changes and has not yet heard from any teams requesting to interview his assistant coaches. He was also asked specifically about the fate of longtime offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, who took over playcalling this season after Payton stepped down. The Saints finished 22nd in scoring offense and put up only 330 points, their lowest total since 2005.

"That's not where we're at right now," Allen said. "I think we're going to evaluate everything. Just like I get evaluated, we're going to evaluate where we need to improve, and that evaluation has not taken place yet. But that'll happen here shortly, and we'll have a plan moving forward."

The Saints will have a decision to make at quarterback as well with Andy Dalton's contract expiring, Jameis Winston under contract for one more season and no first-round pick. They'll also have to decide the fate of wide receiver Michael Thomas, who recently restructured his contract in a move that would allow the team to potentially move on from him this offseason.

"There's been no decisions made on anything to this point," Allen said on Thomas. "I think that ... gives us, and him, just a little bit more flexibility in terms of what we do as we set our plan going forward."