With Saints coach Sean Payton suspended for the season, Joe Vitt will serve as the interim head coach. With Vitt due to start a six-game suspension once the regular-season begins, the Saints will need an interim interim head coach.
With the regular-season opener only 43 days away, the Saints don’t know who that will be.
“The discussions have taken place,” Vitt said Tuesday, in comments to the media. “They are in the infantile stages right now. We are out of the OTAs. [G.M.] Mickey [Loomis] has a couple of coaches that he will talk to. He has a couple people in mind. But again, I think this is critical. We are going to see the personality of this team and what it takes on. Every year is different and the coach that can best serve the needs of this team is the guy that Mickey and Mr. Benson will pick. This is not something that is going to be made in the next week or two. We are going to see who can best serve the needs of our team. We’ve got great coaches here now. We’ve got coaches that have been here since 2006 and know our team and roster. We are blessed to have them.”
The candidates for the interim interim job presumably include offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, and offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.
The Payton and Vitt suspensions flow from the so-called bounty scandal. Vitt reiterated his position on Tuesday regarding the things that truly transpired.
“The Commissioner has suspended me for six games for the spoken word and not the clenched fist,” Vitt said. “I’m taking responsibility for that and I’m going to get better at that. I’m making a conscious effort so far to get better at that. Now this is in the eyes of the beholder. We did not have a bounty program, we had a pay for performance program, as do a lot of teams. But we are going to make a conscious effort as an organization and a coaching staff to temper what we say and how we say it.”
Again, it’s semantics. Players apparently received relatively small amounts of cash (in relation to their salaries) not for intentionally inflicting injury but for applying clean, legal hits that kept opponents from continuing to participate in what is at its core a game of attrition. Despite allegations of a bounty on Brett Favre in the 2009 NFC title game, the evidence supporting that conclusion remains inconsistent and flawed.
Regardless, Payton is gone for the year and Vitt soon will be, for six weeks. The only remaining questions are whether linebacker Jonathan Vilma will likewise be gone for the year, and whether defensive end Will Smith will miss four weeks.