USA TODAY US Edition

Saints give Vitt interim coach tag

- By Jim Corbett USA TODAY

After Bill Parcells chose to stay retired, the New Orleans Saints stayed in-house to restore stability to a franchise in distress as assistant head coach Joe Vitt was named interim coach for suspended Sean Payton, effective Monday when offseason workouts begin.

Payton is suspended for the 2012 season for not stopping or initially disclosing to league investigat­ors the existence of a three-year, pay- for-pain bounty program.

In effect, the Saints turned to a formula that worked last season when Vitt, 57, assumed a more active role while Payton was forced to the coaches box after suffering a broken leg and a knee injury during an Oct. 16 collision in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Question is, who will serve as interim to interim Vitt when the six-game suspension for his role in the bounty cover-up starts with the regular season?

“It’s interestin­g they say, ‘When Joe leaves us,’ short of saying, ‘When he starts his suspension, we’ll have a plan,’ ” NFL Network and Fox analyst Brian Billick said. “It’s as if he has to go on vacation or something.

“This makes sense with the continuity. You’re trying to do what you think Sean Payton would want you to do. But you also have to do what you think is best.

“Joe Vitt is a natural. He’s been there before.”

Vitt went 4-7 as interim coach with the 2005 St. Louis Rams when coach Mike Martz was on medical leave.

Vitt’s replacemen­t could be defensive coordinato­r Steve Spagnuolo or offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.

“It is important that we keep Sean Payton’s philosophy front and center during this season,” general manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement. “We believe this will provide the most seamless transition for our players and our coaching staff.”

 ?? By Derick E. Hingle, US Presswire ?? Out at first: Joe Vitt will miss 2012’s first six games.
By Derick E. Hingle, US Presswire Out at first: Joe Vitt will miss 2012’s first six games.

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