The New Orleans Saints ended their season with a flourish — and then some controversy. When the second-string offense and backup quarterback Jameis Winston went rogue to get Jamaal Williams a late touchdown run over the Atlanta Falcons, Saints head coach Dennis Allen responded by apologizing to the other team for their actions.
It was a move that got him lambasted by the Saints fanbase. And one of Allen’s captains and the longest-tenured player on the team, Cameron Jordan, wants it known that he disagreed with Allen’s decision to apologize for scoring too many points on their greatest rival.
“I’m so sorry the locker room really enjoys being a brotherhood,” Jordan joked during an appearance on the Around the NFL podcast this week. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry we punished a rival team. I would do it again. In fact, I would’ve gone for two. The only thing I’m gonna have a discrepancy with is I didn’t understand the ramifications of like, ‘No, they were taking victory formation.’ The ‘Can’tlanta Failcons’ had already acquiesced. They were just trying to get it out there just like their head coach was about to get out there.”
Already unpopular among Saints fans, Allen’s determination to take a stand and tell them to stop enjoying themselves rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Whatever goodwill he earned for his first winning season in five years as a head coach went with the wind. He has more work to do to convince the team’s supporters that he’s the right man for the job, even as general manager Mickey Loomis continues to cook up bad arguments favoring Allen.
But this isn’t going away. Jordan finished his piece with “Half of my gripe was Dennis ended up saying sorry. And I’m like why would you say sorry? Say sorry we didn’t go for 50.”
It’s unfortunate, but it makes sense that Allen still doesn’t get this rivalry. He doesn’t understand why Saints players and fans dislike the Falcons because his heart’s not in it. He was born in Atlanta as the son of former Falcons linebacker Grady Allen. He grew up and into life with Texas A&M as a student, college football player, and assistant coach; the Aggies have built an unhinged program with strange culture and ideas of sportsmanship, which has defined its relationship with its biggest in-state rival by running from the Texas Longhorns to join a new conference (only for Texas to get the jump on them anyway in the expanding SEC). The sense of rivalry and bone-deep hate isn’t in him.
And Allen’s reluctance to lean into that rivalry and engage with Saints fans (and, apparently, his own players) is going to be a storyline until something bigger happens to overshadow it. Hiring an entirely new offensive coaching staff will help. But Allen has a lot of work to do to convince fans the team he’s leading is worth lending their time and money to support. All we can do is it and see whether he can deliver.