The Saints designated offensive line coach Aaron Kromer as the interim head coach for the first 6 regular-season games, when helper head coach Joe Vitt will need to serve his suspension in connection with the NFL’s bounty investigation.
Vitt has been overseeing head coaching obligations since Sean Payton’s full season suspension commenced in mid-April, but the Saints held off till a call concerning who would become the figurehead of the coaching staff when Vitt had to step apart in Week 1.
The 45-year-old Kromer is in his 5th season with the Saints and also serves as running game coordinator.
“This was a difficult decision because we have a few coaches on our people that would do a good job in this role,” GM Mickey Loomis said. “Ultimately, I wanted to have the minimum amount of change with both the offensive and defensive staffs, and maintain the most continuity with the program that has been in place for the last 6 years.”
The move allows offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. to maintain his focus totally on designing and calling plays for Drew Brees and the Saints’ record-setting offense.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who was a head coach the past 3 seasons in St. Louis, was an alternative choice, but he is in his 1st season in New Orleans and trying to help the Saints adjust to his plan.
“Aaron has been with us since 2008, he has coached with Sean both in college (at Miami, Ohio) and here at the Saints,” Loomis said. “He is very familiar with our team and with the methods we’ve been successful with. He’ll do a great job.”
Kromer, who interviewed for a head coaching job in St. Louis last offseason, asserted he appreciated the confidence the Saints are showing in him, but also noted he sees his job as having much more to do with guaranteeing continuity than putting his personal stamp on the way that the team is run.
“Coach Payton has laid a successful foundation here and our roles are to be sure we keep moving in that direction,” Kromer declared.
Kromer had been mentioned as a provisional head coaching candidate since the suspensions both Payton and Vitt were reported in late March, a few weeks after the NFL recounted it had uncovered a bounty system in which New Orleans defenders had been paid improper money bonuses for injuring targeted competitors.
Neither Vitt nor current and former Saints players have admitted to participating in a bounty system as the NFL described it. They have asserted they ran only a pay-for-performance pool that offered a few hundred dollars — nominal sums relative to NFL agreements — for big plays such as interceptions, sacks, forced fumbles and big clean hits.
Kromer played offensive line at Miami, Ohio, and also started his training career there in 1990. He has spent his last 11 seasons in the NFL as a assistant with Oakland (2001-04) under John Gurden and Bill Callahan, Tampa Bay Rays(2005-07 under Gruden), and New Orleans (2008-present). Basketball scores
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