Steve Spagnuolo, Pete Carmichael could lead Saints in Payton’s absence


With Sean Payton suspended for a year by the NFL, the question of who will be the head coach of the Saints this year comes into the forefront.

One of the most obvious candidates would be assistant head coach Joe Vitt, but he’s suspended for the first six games of next season as well. That leaves the Saints to look at other candidates to run the show. There’s no word about what the Saints plan to do at this point.

They could look outside the organization, although that seems like a thankless job for someone to take under the circumstances. That would leave in-house candidates and the two most obvious ones are defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.

Spagnuolo has head coaching experience with the Rams, but he’s also a brand new part of the staff in New Orleans. That might not be a negative, though. The Saints could see that as a way to put a face on the team with no ties to what went down over the last three seasons.

He’s also got a lot of work to do putting together a more effective defense in New Orleans for the coming season, a task that won’t be made any easier by Vitt’s suspension since he also coaches the linebackers. The rest of the staff is a mix of holdovers and guys who came from St. Louis with Spagnuolo, which isn’t ideal if Spagnuolo’s attention will be divided.

Carmichael took on extra responsibility when Payton was knocked off the sideline after injuring his knee in a sideline collision during the 2011 season, but his offensive coordinator role was always tempered by Payton’s outsize role in running the offense. Having Drew Brees on hand would make it easier for Carmichael to focus on bigger picture things, though, and he has more experience with the organization than Spagnuolo.

One other option could be offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who has more than two decades of experience as an assistant and five years with New Orleans. He got some looks for head coaching vacancies earlier this year and it’s possible that the team would prefer moving him up the ladder while keeping the two coordinators in place. None of the other offensive assistants seem to have the background to move up to the top spot.

Whoever does wind up doing the job will be faced with filling some big shoes during the 2012 season.

20 responses to “Steve Spagnuolo, Pete Carmichael could lead Saints in Payton’s absence

  1. Oh the Saints will place a “job opening” sticky pad memo on the local shopping center bulletin board – they will be OK.

  2. Carmichael will be the likely choice. He has more experience with our offense. The key to any kind of decent season is to get Drew signed. He and coach developed the offense.

  3. Though the Saints would hate to loose their best coaches, isn’t there a stigma now surrounding Payton and his supporting staff? Maybe they (the afore mentioned coaches) should look for other teams after 2012.

  4. You can tell when a team is a bada$$, because loser fan bases are out in full force. Nothing will stop the Saints from taking it all, THIS season, watch and learn boys.

  5. stonecld33 says:
    Mar 21, 2012 2:09 PM
    The aints should have got the death penalty and the superbowl stripped away.
    Dumbest post of the day. How do you think an owner of 30 years would respond to those two things being done? My guess is that Tom Benson would blow the league up. Take away his team and he will make sure the guys in Washington who are dying to destroy the NFL get all the information they need to break the monopoly that is the NFL. He punished the Saints enough. Time to move on.

  6. Carmichael seems the wiser choice since he’s more familiar with the organization and had to step in when Payton was injured. Having one of the premier QBs in the game will take a lot of pressure off him, as will having a former HC running the defense.

    Perhaps the best news in all this for Saints fans is Loomis’s suspension. Although I gather he won’t be required to step out until the season begins, perhaps Benson should push him aside now and work out a deal with Drew to ensure a smooth camp for Carmichael. Loomis’s handling of the contract negotiations has been ridiculous from the get-go. If you’re too big an idiot to realize you’re negotiating for an elite QB, you have no business being at the table.

  7. I would look to bring in a veteran like Joe Gibbs, Dick Vermeil or Bill Parcells for one year. If you bring in a young coach, there will be awkardness if they do well and then have to return to their normal role the next year.

    If they brought in a veteran like Gibbs, the team would be able to function the same at the coordinator level, but have a respected figure head as the head coach to lead the team.

  8. Anyone else surprised that the team was not punished more?? The owner had put money in the kiddy as well.

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