"I Spy" On Coaches: The Bronco's Dennis Allen

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For those of you who missed the other two "I Spy" articles, you will find them here. John Fox, Mike McCoy

The Dennis Allen story was a bit difficult for me, requiring some deep digging. I think that he likes his privacy, and may not allow much information to become common knowledge. That makes me like this guy right from the start!


Dennis and his wife, Alisson, have a son, Garrison and a daughter, Layla. (No public Pics? Who'd a thunk-it?)


Grady Allen, Dennis Allen's father was a standout linebacker for the Aggies, (Texas A&M) and played Linebacker (#54) for the Atlanta Falcons from 1968-1972. Awarded an AFL franchise on June 7, 1965, Atlanta signed Grady three years later as an UFA. (undrafted free agent) He played in 59 games as a back up recording 2 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries.

A San Augustine, Texas native, and an Alumnus of Texas A&M University, he naturally remained in Texas after his professional career ended. His son Dennis was born, in Atlanta, at the beginning of his last season with the Falcons.


Dennis Allen was born on September 22, 1972. He spent his high school years playing defensive back at L. D. Bell High School in Hurst, Texas (10 miles west of Dallas and north of Ft Worth). Allen was a highly-recruited defensive back but chose to honor his father's choice of schools.

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He was a 4-year letter-man for the Aggies as a safety for the "Wrecking Crew" from 1992-1995, and he started the final 21 games of his career there. His fourth-quarter interception clinched an 18-9 victory over rival Texas in 1993, sending the Aggies to their third-straight Cotton Bowl Classic. He won Southwest Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors after intercepting two passes in a 36-14 win over Oklahoma in 1994.

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The term "Wrecking Crew" is a name given to the Aggies defense (coined by defensive back Chet Brooks), and it became popular during the 80s and the 90s when head coach R. C. Slocum was boss. After Slocum's tenure, many fans, coaches, and sports analysts feel that recent Aggie defenses have not "earned" the title.

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That sounds a lot like what happened to the "Orange Crush" moniker, and I feel like Dennis Allen is trying to re-establish the ferocity in our modern D! I firmly believe that very soon, we may once again be proud to link the two eras.


Allen was signed as an UFA by the Buffalo Bills, and competed in their training camp in 1996.


In The College Ranks;

After his release from the Bills, (1996) Allen returned to his Alma mater to began his coaching career. serving as a graduate assistant coach under his old coach R. C. Slocum for four seasons. (1996–1999) He worked primarily with the secondary. When Slocum left, he went on to Tulsa where he was a secondary coach for two seasons (2000–2001) working with Head Coach Bill Blankenship.

Pro Ranks;

Dennis Allen's 9 years of coaching in the NFL has been time well spent! His fresh and innovative defensive mind, is why he became the second-youngest defensive coordinator, at the time of his hiring, and his first year at the position.

With Atlanta;

When the Atlanta Falcons noticed the son of a former player, Grady Allen, was excelling in the College ranks, they hired him as Defensive Quality Control, (DQC) an assistant under DC Wade Phillips and Secondary Coach Emmett Thomas. For those who are not familiar with the DQC possition, it is esentially a "gofer this and that" possition, but in that capacity, it gives a "newby" a great deal of learning experience.

When Wade Philips accepted a possition else where, Ed Donatell took his possition and Dennis Allen was promoted to Defensive Assistant. (Still paying his dues, but learning from some very good defensive minds.) He was able to help Phillips and Thomas create a backfeild that tied for third in the NFL with 24 interceptions, and improved from 30th vs. the pass in 2001, to 16th in 02. However, enough cannot be said for what he must have learned from Defensive Line Coach Bill Johnson.

Johnson was retained, when Ed Donatell took over, and for good reason! In 2004 Atlanta led the NFL, for the first time in club history, (with 48 sacks) and the unit sent DE Patrick Kerney to the Pro Bowl. In 2005, the production dropped to 37 sacks, but remained respectable.

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With New Orleans;

New Orleans took notice, and hired Dennis as assistant defensive line coach, a position that he served from 2006-07. During that stretch, he helped direct a front that combined for 48.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and 10 fumble recoveries. This was the year after "THE BIG ONE" hit NO, the largest hurricane to strike our shores since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane! Throughout the chaos of that year, having to play some home games elsewhere, Dennis continued his education.

From 2008-10 he coached the team’s secondary. The Saints’ secondary helped the team rank fourth in the NFL in 2010, but it was the defensive backfield of the 2009 team that helped the Saints capture the city’s first-ever Super Bowl Championship (XLIV).

In 09, safety Darren Sharper, (9 interceptions) tied for the NFL lead, and he and safety Roman Harper became the first pair of defensive backs in Saint's history to make the Pro Bowl in the same season. Dennis Allen knows the defensive line positions! Dennis Allen knows backfields! Dennis knows the safety position! Why wouldn't he want to keep Mr. Dawkins in the mix? Why wouldn't he flat out love Mr. Baily?

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"Fox coaches like a CEO; he manages his staff, giving input during the week and managing it all on game day, but he gives his assistants great leeway in concocting schemes and strategies. He has a like-minded innovator and motivator in Allen. That's how Fox learned the game, first as a defensive back, and then as a secondary coach before working his way up the coaching ladder."

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Buuuuurrrrrrrr! Gotta catch my breath!

So, here comes Allen, into a brand new venue! What a change in scenery! From the Golf of Mexico to the Mile High mountains, the scenery changed from Defensive Assistant to DC! But, what's the big deal? Why hire this guy? Let's go ask the new HC, shall we?

When Fox was hired, he knew his choice of defensive coordinator would be crucial. "His long-standing relationship with members of the Saints staff led him to Allen, known in league circles as an up-and-coming young assistant."

As have all head coaches, John Fox has been run through the total gambit of questions normally asked the new boss of an NFL franchise. When asked about Dennis Allen, he's had a lot to say.

Here are a few of his quotes:

"I've kind of liked guys that have a familiarity with the (secondary) because it ties into everything, having an understanding of that, because big plays do get you beat, and understanding how that works is key,'' Fox said.

"First of all, he's a very sharp guy. He knows football. He's been around good people; he has an aggressive style; he's young; he relates to players well,'' Fox said. "His background was more on the back end (in the secondary), but he had spent some time working with the D-line, so I think he understands the back to the front, which I think is important in a fine, young coach.''


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Fox's philosophies are deeply rooted in a stingy defense and stout ground game, and those are the two areas he set about upgrading when he took over in January. Hiring Dennis Allen as his coordinator, drafting Von Miller to help Elvis Doomerville in the pass rush, (you know that Dennis loved that pick) and signing free agent Willis McGahee as his bruising running back, were all good starts that are helping him to quickly accomplish his goals.

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With a ball-control offense guided by Tebow, who's thrown just two interceptions in his eight starts, the Broncos completed a 4-0 November in which they allowed only 60 points, committed just one turnover and rushed for nearly 900 yards. The only other team ever to have a stretch like that is the 1971 Miami Dolphins, who ended their season at 10W-3L and a tie.

Allen has a knack for relating to today's players.

"He's intense, he's detailed, he knows football, he's a great teacher,'' Bailey said. "I like the way he explains things because he makes it to where you can understand what he means. It's not like you're sitting there trying to figure out, 'What is he talking about?' He knows exactly how to talk to his players.''

Bailey said some guys are good coaches but bad communicators, "and I think half the battle is getting to know your players and I think over time, he's going to get even better at it because he's still getting to know us.'' With no OTA's, it's no wonder!

"I think a lot of success from coaches depends on their personality. Because, you've got to know what it takes to get guys to play hard. And it's sad to say, but sometimes at this level, you have to be a good motivator, and he's good in all those areas,'' Baily continued.

Without the benefit of OTA's during the off season, Allen, spent his first six months on the job working on theories instead of on the football field. He had no OTAs in which to learn his players' tendencies or teach them his schemes. He then watched one star after another go down with injuries: Ty Warren, Marcus Thomas, D.J. Williams, Elvis Dumervil, and Champ Bailey.

After putting up with 5 different DC's in the last five years, (Larry Coyer, Jim Bates, Bob Slowik, Mike Nolan, & Don Martindale) I am certainly ready for our sixth in six, Dennis Allen, to stick with us for many years to come! Do you think that John Fox may have intentionally picked two young coaches, and promoted them to 1st time Coordinators, with that concept in mind?

I'm Douglas Clancy Hale, (alias metalman5050, "don't trust this guy, he's a spy!") and that's just my opinion.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR.