<
>

Joe Vitt: Saints' D has to be 'comfortable being uncomfortable' after 2014

METAIRIE, La. -- We got a rare chance to speak with New Orleans Saints assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt on Wednesday when he filled in for head coach Sean Payton at the podium. I asked Vitt what has been his biggest emphasis during this year’s defensive makeover.

“Well, it’s not me, it’s everybody,” Vitt said. “We’ve gotta run to the ball better. We’ve gotta tackle better. We’ve gotta finish better. If it’s a bad play, we’ve gotta move on to the next play. The guys that we have on defense right now have taken ownership of the defense we had last year. So we’ve got a long way to go, but the attitude’s been great.”

When asked about some of the lineup tinkering the Saints have been doing -- including trying out both rookie Stephone Anthony and veteran David Hawthorne as the signal callers during games -- Vitt said, “We’re trying to find the best people to do the best jobs. Everybody around here after the season we had defensively, we have to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable. ... Whoever gives us the best job to win will be the signal caller.”

Vitt remained cautiously optimistic about the young linebackers he’s coaching, including potential rookie starters Anthony and Hau'oli Kikaha, saying they have a long way to go but they’re “wide-eyed, willing to learn, work hard and they love football.”

One player Vitt was especially complimentary of was veteran defensive tackle Kevin Williams, who signed in July and immediately hopped into the Saints' starting lineup.

“No. 1, he’s been a really good player his whole career,” Vitt said of the six-time Pro Bowler. “He came in here and he hasn’t missed a practice. He’s done every conditioning drill. He’s an asset in the meetings. He’s just a character guy. You can’t say enough about the guy, what a great acquisition.”