Skip to content

“Rogue coach” defense rings hollow

j-vitt Getty Images

Saints assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt has appealed his six-game suspension by claiming that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was a “rogue coach.”

If that’s the case, Vitt still failed in his responsibility to the team and its players.

Vitt was and is the “assistant head coach.”  If Williams was saying the things he said in the meeting room the night before the playoff loss to the 49ers, chances are that Williams was saying the same things on other occasions.  And Vitt, as a member of the defensive staff, apparently sat on his hands — thumbs pointing up — as Williams ranted and raved about literally “killing the head” and targeting ACLs and otherwise trying to injure players.

Vitt claims, via lawyer David Cornwell, that “coaches did not coach and . . . players did not play to injure their opponents.”  Though the latter may be true, the former clearly isn’t, given the plain words that came from Gregg Williams’ mouth.

By not standing up and telling Gregg Williams he was out of line, Vitt went along with Williams’ message.  By not going directly to coach Sean Payton or G.M. Mickey Loomis or owner Tom Benson or NFL Security, Vitt necessarily ratified Williams’ tactics.  It’s far too late now for Vitt to say that Williams was acting on his own; Vitt’s title and duties gave him an obligation to act, and his inaction cannot now be excused.

The same goes for Payton.  Delegating full responsibility for the defense to Williams doesn’t amount to abdicating responsibility for half of the team.  Payton is the head coach, and Payton is ultimately responsible for everything Williams does.  Intentionally remaining ignorant as to Williams’ methods makes Payton necessarily complicit.  Otherwise, every head coach could say the offensive coordinator exclusively runs the offense, the defensive coordinator exclusively runs the defense, the special-teams coordinator exclusively runs the special teams, and all the head coach does is determine whether to go for it on fourth down and show up for the press conferences.

Permalink 30 Comments Feed for comments Latest Stories in: Home, New Orleans Saints, Rumor Mill, San Francisco 49ers
30 Responses to ““Rogue coach” defense rings hollow”
  1. medtxpack says: Apr 5, 2012 4:25 PM

    Every single excuse the Saints have used rings hollow. Its pathetic. If i was on their team, id delete my twiiter before i said something stupid.

  2. reaser2 says: Apr 5, 2012 4:26 PM

    If Payton and Vitt are punished for what Williams did, because of their titles. Then shouldn’t Goodell be suspended as well? He’s the commissioner of the entire league, and this happened for years under his watch, he can’t just claim ignorance, it makes him complicit.

    He should be banned from America, for life, for blatantly attempting to ruin our countries greatest sport (I’m not specifically talking about bounty penalties with that comment.)

  3. robert831 says: Apr 5, 2012 4:27 PM

    Saints all got off easy for lying cheaters with a tainted championship… They should have lost at least 3 first round picks & possibly 3 years of franchise tags, one for each year we have confirmation they intentionally cheated & lied. Williams should be banned for life.

  4. nolarules says: Apr 5, 2012 4:28 PM

    This failed appeal can’t be over and done with soon enough. Hopefully player punishment will follow quickly so that these stories can at least tone down to 10 per day instead of every other post. Then Florio can get down to what really is important: tarnishing everyone for his own gain. The Saints are already tarnished. Time for some new to go after. Mo Claiborne down….The rest of the world to go

  5. sdisme says: Apr 5, 2012 4:32 PM

    I don’t think anyone including Saints fans has argued that they should be punished for a lack of institutional control.

    And I think Payton took responsibility as the head coach.

    I think what everyone has been questioning is everyone in the media saying that Payton got a year for a 3 year coverup and lying to the commish.

    And is a lack of control worth a year and 6-8 million?

  6. savocabol1 says: Apr 5, 2012 4:33 PM

    I’m sick of this bounty crap. Be done with it already.

  7. godofwine330 says: Apr 5, 2012 4:39 PM

    See, I am kind of torn here. On one hand you speak up and avoid the penalties that are forthcoming anyway, but on the other as an assistant coach making significantly less than either coach or defensive coordinator and with asperations of one day becoming a head coach you run the risk of being labeled a snitch if you come clean and coaches, owners will not trust you to keep Omerta within the lockerroom.

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Honor doesn’t matter when you are out of a job and no one will hire you because you it is widely known that you cannot keep your mouth shut.

  8. waitingguilty says: Apr 5, 2012 5:00 PM

    See, to be some fatsos on the saints staff. Someone get them on a treadmill.

  9. pftrocks says: Apr 5, 2012 5:02 PM

    Take the penalty and come back with a vengeance guys..this move would make me not want 2 work or play w Peyton or Vitt. Hopefully Goodell isnt swayed by their Sgt Schultz excuse…..PATHETIC!

    Peyton & Vitt addressing Goodell:

  10. profootballwalk says: Apr 5, 2012 5:29 PM

    Can Vitt’s suspension be doubled?

  11. hey804 says: Apr 5, 2012 5:36 PM

    What was said in the Saints locker room was deplorable and I think they’ve gotten what they deserve. But what the Saints did(or did not do) on the field is something else. Other than the high/low hit on Favre three years ago, are there any other shady plays? The hit on Warner was textbook clean. So who has been crippled? I’d think at 6’2 250lbs it would be easy to go out there and tear peoples’ ACLs, but that wasn’t the case.

    They’ve have over 40 games to prove themselves dirty with Gregg Williams. Before this whole bounty situation the average NFL fan would have probably found Detroit, Baltimore and Pittsburg to be the dirtiest teams on the field. I think in the last three years the Saints ranked 19th in personal fouls, but I’m not sure where I read that. I’m not excusing the Saints, just saying it doesn’t look like the players were following their coaches’ orders.

  12. brianbosworthisstonecold says: Apr 5, 2012 5:39 PM

    Ban the whole team for a season.

  13. ugk612 says: Apr 5, 2012 5:48 PM

    Can you say………Oliver North?

  14. nflrule says: Apr 5, 2012 5:55 PM

    What does all of this say about Jeff Fisher hiring Gregg Williams as his defensive coordinator?Character matters!!

  15. nashvilletrojan says: Apr 5, 2012 5:56 PM

    people are forgetting, Vitt got busted for lying and stealing 2 years ago during the vicodin scandal. I’m pretty sure the Commish remembers that little foible.

  16. rocketman2010 says: Apr 5, 2012 6:10 PM

    What if Vitt was the whistleblower… does that give him the right to make this claim now?

    You don’t have any direct knowledge that he sat on his hands.

    Maybe he was the one that reported it to the NFL because no one else was doing anything about it.

  17. kodakinvegas says: Apr 5, 2012 6:10 PM

    NAWLEANS fans, shut up already, you’re making me sick. Sound just like your whimp coaches. maybe the swamps will suck you down under and use ya for gator food. Wahhhh, Wahhhhh

  18. teal379 says: Apr 5, 2012 6:16 PM

    The fact that the Rams and Jeff Fisher haven’t fired Williams within 20 minutes after the tape came out – unbelievable. Really.

    What possible reason could they have for keeping the guy on?

    It speaks quite loudly about the type of people Jeff is and the organization the Rams are.

  19. melikefootball says: Apr 5, 2012 6:27 PM

    Shows the character of the coaches of the Saints when CAUGHT, they will do anythng to keep their place in New Orleans. Where was Vitt’s and the players in the meeting, once the meeting was over, reporting to the head coach or main office shouting loud on Williams. By all rights the whole coaching staff on defense as well as head coach should be out of the NFL forever. They all laughed it up in the meeting again till CAUGHT.

  20. ceadderman says: Apr 5, 2012 6:48 PM

    Benson should be suspended for a year. Loomis should be forced to resign. Peyton should have his suspension extended another year.

    No more can Benson plead ignorance. He was TOLD by Goodell and the League that they were under investigation. He should have demanded Williams be fired the moment it happened. For conduct detrimental to the team and the game. No severance package. Instead they waited for Williams contract to expire and just didn’t renegotiate. They did NOT fire the guy at the end of the season as is being reported on NFL Network.

    Oh and if you need further proof of culpability on Benson’s part they blew off the move to go away from Williams as his contract had expired. Should have distanced themselves from the very beginning of this playing out in ’10.

    Mickey Loomis should be forced to resign because not only did Benson tell him “get your ducks in a row” he didn’t fire Williams. Nothing says Business as usual to a team when nobody’s head rolls.

    Peyton had a responsibility to his owner and his team to dropkick that maniac off the team. He had a duty to his GM to communicate and delegate Williams dismissal. He fell on his sword instead.

    Saints should lose more picks this year or next years first rounder in addition to the two 2nd rounders. And they should lose $15 mil in Cap Space for every year that Bounty Program is proven to have existed.

    Nothing says don’t make this mistake again like this does.

    The Saints LIED that a Bounty program was in place. They continued its practice after it was communicated to them to cease and desist by the Commish in 2010 and they continued it into the Division game.

    If the Giants acknowledge that they did knowingly target a player they too should suffer the consequences. Hey if my team did the same thing I hope they too get jacked up. Every league from Minor League Ball to Pop Warner is watching this with keen interest.

    I personally do not want this to change the game to that of flag Football. But at the same time I don’t want to see this game treated with such blatant disrespect. Play hard, hit hard but do so showing the other guy the respect they’re due. If you knowingly target players and their injuries you shouldn’t be on that field. That’s not what the game is about.

  21. entmd says: Apr 5, 2012 6:56 PM

    Florio, you’re right, the NFL is awful. Especially bounties, Redskins, and worst of all – rampant TAMPERING. Let’s say “screw the NFL” and start Profigureskating.com. I’m sure all the outraged commenters will be all over it.

  22. saints25 says: Apr 5, 2012 7:10 PM

    These media ducks will cry when their not allowed in baseball locker rooms…because football is DONE.No business will ever put their name on helmets or equipment after the Re-tired players sue the heck out of the NFL…Its over 2-5 years..take it to the bank

  23. cowboyscanada says: Apr 5, 2012 7:26 PM

    Saint are a bunch of cheaters! They are a classless bunch and to hear Brees saw, “aw shucks, I had no idea” is laughable. The HC comes across as a jerk. Never did like that half wit.

  24. broncobrewer says: Apr 5, 2012 7:33 PM

    Let’s use common sense here. The speech that came out today made perfect sense to me and didn’t sound like a bounty. Let’s hit smith on the chin come on who doesn’t say that. Kill their head/ confuse them sorry this sounds more like the some thing. If you listen to any commentator they talk about going after the players with injuries at the beginning of the games to test them. That exactly what Williams did he pointed out the main players and their injuries and said test them. Did he ever say anything about money? Nope. He wanted to test the stars injuries. Come on people use your heads. Stop letting the media think for you.

  25. SkeletalDrawing says: Apr 5, 2012 8:12 PM

    Payton can’t claim it was a rogue coach, he had a freakin’ email from an outsider telling him how much to put him down for on a bounty on Rodgers! It was obviously expected that Payton would pass the information on to Williams, and they casual way it was worded strongly suggests it wasn’t the first time.

    If Payton is passing along the bounties to Williams, he’s explicitly participating in them, on top of failing his duty has a head coach to put a stop to the whole thing. A year is getting off easy as far as I’m concerned.

  26. kronix7 says: Apr 5, 2012 8:47 PM

    You would think there would be more saints* fan comments. Hahaha.

  27. nosaintsfan79 says: Apr 5, 2012 9:10 PM

    Fire them all !!!!!

  28. nosaintsfan79 says: Apr 5, 2012 9:11 PM

    Thanks for the Super Bowl. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!!!

  29. piemasteruk says: Apr 6, 2012 3:19 AM

    It is an interesting angle you are taking. You suggest that Payton is responsible for the actions of the people under him even if he claims he had no knowledge of what was going on. This is fair enough. It is your responsibility to know what your underlings are doing. If you don’t then it is still a failure on your part and you are still responsible. This can be seen in every work place all over the world and is widely accepted.

    Vitt is a different story though. Williams is his boss. Are you responsible when your boss screws up? You could obviously make the argument that if he knew what was going on he should have reported it to the league or head coach, but to be honest he has a massive case of split loyalty here. While this bounty case is being blown up as a massive story by the media, those of us that have actually played football know that stuff like this goes on at a lot of teams. Is Vitt supposed to go to Williams and say “yo boss, I don’t like what you’re doing, even though we both know a lot of other teams are doing it as well if you carry on I’m reporting you to the league”. Seriously does anyone think this would have got him anywhere other than out of a job?

    It’s all very well for us to sit here at our PCs moralising, but in actual real life imagine you knew your boss was doing something a bit shady that you didn’t exactly agree with, but wasn’t exactly criminal or something that didn’t happen elsewhere. Are you going to go to any lengths to expose him and blow the whistle or are you going to just keep your head down and do your job? Think about that before you judge others too readily.

    Of course, if it turns out that he was a willing and active participant in the bounty scheme then throw the book at him, but let’s not just throw a big pot of paint over the Saints organisation and make all guilty until proven innocent.

  30. redstar504 says: Apr 6, 2012 4:10 AM

    literally “killing the head”… So in summation you think Gregg Williams was actually calling for his players to kill the opponent?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!