Joe Vitt isn’t Sean Payton.
But, according to the Saints, he might as well be the next best thing.
In announcing the move for Vitt to, as the news release stated, “assume day-to-day duties of Saints Head Coach Sean Payton in his absence,” there was a theme that ran throughout.
Which was – we’re not changing.
There was no mention of suspension in the release. There was no mention that Vitt would be interim coach. And, more to the point, it was full of praise for Payton, the man still with the Saints the NFL hammered the hardest.
“It is important that we keep Sean Payton’s philosophy front and center during this season,” general manager Mickey Loomis said. “Sean has been the driving force behind the tremendous success our team has enjoyed during the past six years. His leadership will be missed.”
Loomis went on to say that Vitt gives the Saints the best option for a seamless transition.
Vitt, mind you, is the same person who is Payton’s right-hand man on the staff, the same one who was supposed to watch over former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and report any shenanigans to the head coach.
And we see how that worked out.
Payton is out for the season and Vitt will miss the first six games of the 2012 season and the reputation of the franchise has taken a massive hit.
After all the flirtations outside the facility, this does accomplish what they want most and it's not a bad thing.
Keeping Vitt on board, in spite of his own suspension, gives the team stability.
Pete Carmichael Jr. can continue to focus on the offense and a whole and how to run it.
Steve Spagnuolo can continue to focus on the defense and how to mold it for success. And Aaron Kromer can continue to focus on an offensive line that has kept Drew Brees clean the past six years.
This move will keep any of those three from feeling spited and overlooked; Vitt took on the head coaching duties this past season when Payton went down with his knee injury.
Still, there is no mistaking that what the Saints are saying with this release and this move – the team was, is and will be Sean Payton’s.