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Mark Ingram believes the Saints can “make a lot of noise”

Mike Florio and Chris Simms react to the latest news from Saints OTAs as Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas both continue their recovery ahead of the 2022 season.

It’s a rarity that a head coach leaves but, for the most part, the rest of the team remains the same. That’s exactly what the Saints will be doing in 2022.

Sean Payton, who arrived in 2006, is gone. But nearly everyone else is back.

One guy who knows a thing or two about the Saints, thanks to his extended time there (with a detour to the Ravens along the way) is running back Mark Ingram. Via the team’s website, Ingram recently addressed the state of the team, with Payton gone -- and with defensive coordinator Dennis Allen getting the job.

“I think that was huge, keeping the DNA the same,” Ingram said. “It’s not like it’s a full rebuild here. I think you have a team that can make a lot of noise and make a run at it. Obviously, we have to improve and get better and gel as a unit, but I think keeping the DNA of the team, the culture of the team the same, I think that’s huge and I think we’ll all benefit from it.

“Obviously, D.A. is different from Sean. But D.A. has done a great job of just trying to keep it as normal as possible and adding his own kind of flavor to it. I think the defense is more used to it, because they spent so much time with him in defensive meetings. We only saw him sometimes when he had to fill in. But I like him a lot.”

Allen filled in last year for a Sunday night game against the Buccaneers. And the Saints shut out Tom Brady and his teammates, 9-0.

“I think he’s doing a great job with the team, he’s doing a great job in the team meetings, he’s doing a great job with us out there telling us let’s get our work done, let’s be efficient, let’s be effective, let’s improve, let’s work, let’s have a sense of urgency,” Ingram said. “He’s going to take care of us and get us off the field. I think he’s done a great job. Just having the same DNA, the same culture of the team, I think that’s going to be good for everyone in the locker room.”

Allen turned around a defense that had disintegrated post-bountygate. For reasons still not obvious, Allen never got any real consideration for a second chance as a head coach, following a tour of duty with the Raiders. Fortunately for the Saints, he was available to take the baton from Payton.

And Ingram is right. The Saints can make a lot of noise. They nearly made the playoffs last year, despite plenty of injuries and a Monday night COVID debacle against the Dolphins, which included an effort to get Drew Brees to unretire and Payton walking into the locker room before the game and seeing multiple players in uniform whom he didn’t recognize.

The Saints should be largely recognizable in 2022, even though Payton won’t be there. The real question is whether they’ll be as competitive without him.