The New Orleans Saints have promoted Tony Oden to secondary coach from assistant secondary coach, moved Mike Mallory from assistant special teams coach to assistant secondary coach and hired John Bonamego as the team’s assistant special teams coach, the team announced.
“Tony has worked hard to help develop our defensive backs and has a strong understanding of our defensive philosophy,” said head coach Sean Payton. “This promotion from within helps us maintain continuity on a defense that has continued to improve, especially in the secondary.
“Mike and John are both excellent coaches as well and men that I’ve enjoyed being able to work with. I believe Mike will be a strong contributor to our defense, just as he has been to our special teams the past three years, and I look forward to working with John again.”
Oden is a 15-year coaching veteran with seven years of NFL experience, five of them as the Saints’ assistant secondary coach. Under the leadership of Oden and former secondary coach Dennis Allen, whom he replaces following his departure to Denver as defensive coordinator, the defensive backfield has enjoyed a marked improvement.
In 2009, a revamped secondary finished ranked second in the NFC and third in the NFL with 26 interceptions and fifth in the league in touchdown passes allowed (15). In 2010, New Orleans finished ranked fourth in the NFL in opponent net yards passing per game (193.9) – their second top-five ranking in five seasons, holding opponents under 200 yards nine times. Opponents also threw for a league-low 13 touchdowns.
Before arriving in New Orleans, Oden served with the Houston Texans in a similar capacity from 2004-05 in his first NFL position. Previously, he tutored the defensive backs at Eastern Michigan in 2003 and worked with several position groups at East Carolina from 2000-02. Oden has also enjoyed stints at Army (1998-99), Boston College (1997) and at Millersville (1996), where he started his coaching career. He also acquired NFL experience by serving as a summer coaching intern for Green Bay (1999) and Cleveland (2001).
The Cleveland Heights, Ohio native, played linebacker at Baldwin-Wallace from 1992-95, where he was a team captain as a senior and two-time all-conference selection.
Mallory is entering his fourth season on the Saints coaching staff, having served as the assistant special teams coach since prior to the 2008 campaign. A football lifer, Mallory joined the Saints as his first coaching job in the NFL after serving as an assistant on the collegiate level for 22 seasons.
A former All-Big Ten linebacker during his collegiate career at Michigan, Mallory joined the coaching ranks upon graduating and had stops at Indiana (1985-86), Kent State, (1988-90), Eastern Illinois (1991-92), Rhode Island (1993-95), Northern Illinois (1996-99), Maryland (2000), Illinois (2001-05), Kansas (2006) and Louisville (2007) before coming to New Orleans.
Bonamego returns to New Orleans for a second stint with the Saints, having served as the team’s special teams coordinator during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, which were highlighted by the blocked punt that spurred the Saints to victory in their return to the Superdome.
2011 will be Bonamego’s 24th season in coaching and his 13th on the NFL level. He spent the past three seasons (2008-10) as the special teams coordinator of the Miami Dolphins and previously held coordinator roles with the Green Bay Packers (2003-05) and Jacksonville Jaguars (2002) after entering the league with the Jaguars as their assistant special teams coach in 1999.
Bonamego was viewed as a scapegoat for the Dolphins' struggles on special teams last season and was fired before the season ended.