The New Orleans Saints have announced only that assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Vitt will step into head coach Sean Payton’s role when Payton's season-long suspension begins Monday.
The team said Vitt will guide the team through its offseason program, training camp and the regular season. But Vitt will have to step aside at the start of the regular season to serve a six-game suspension for his role in the Saints’ bounty program. In the statement announcing the move, general manager Mickey Loomis said the Saints will make a decision on who will step into Vitt’s role as the start of the regular season gets closer.
But ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that offensive line coach Aaron Kromer is expected to fill in for Vitt for those six games.
That probably makes the most sense of any of the possible scenarios. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael are the other two logical candidates. But keeping them in their current roles and letting Kromer handle supervisory duties might be the best way to work through the first six games.
Spagnulo previously was a head coach in St. Louis. But he is new to the Saints and is overhauling the defense. There could be other obstacles ahead for the defense, because multiple players could face suspensions for their roles in the bounty program. Spagnuolo will have his hands full just operating the defense.
Carmichael took over play-calling duties for the first time in his career last October, when Payton suffered knee and leg injuries in a sideline collision. Carmichael is viewed as an offensive guru, but comes across as quiet and shy, and might be better off just handling the offense instead of being asked to lead the whole team and handle media duties.
Kromer has a more outgoing personality. He’s also viewed as a rising star in coaching circles. Kromer reportedly was about to get an interview for the head coaching job with the St. Louis Rams before Jeff Fisher accepted the position.