The New Orleans Saints went down the path most expected they would when they named offensive line coach Aaron Kromer as the interim replacement to interim head coach Joe Vitt.
Kromer will take over for Vitt while he is serving a six-game suspension to begin the season for his role in the Saints’ bounty scandal.
“This was a difficult decision because we have several coaches on our staff that would do a great job in this role,” general manager Mickey Loomis said on the team’s Web site. “Ultimately, I wanted to have the least 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 six years.
“Aaron has been with us since 2008, he has coached with Sean (Payton) both in college and here at the Saints. He is very familiar with our team and with the methods we have been successful with. He will do a great job.”
The St. Louis Rams considered Kromer for their head-coaching vacancy that eventually went to Jeff Fisher. Kromer has clashed with some linemen over the years and depending on who you talk to, he hasn’t been the most popular assistant coach. But New Orleans has a recent track record of producing fine young offensive linemen.
The decision to choose Kromer will allow the coordinators to remain committed to their jobs and not disrupt the coaching process any more than it already is with Payton suspended for the entire season.
“The job our staff has done during Sean’s absence has been remarkable,” said Vitt, who is also linebackers coach. “We have great talent and depth on our coaching staff, but most importantly we have guys on this coaching staff that clearly understand the foundation of success that Sean has built and I feel great that Aaron and the rest of the staff will continue to build on that foundation.”
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo admits it has been a challenge with all of the change.
“It’s a challenge just to be losing Joe. I will be honest with you; I’m loving every minute of working with Joe Vitt,” Spagnuolo said. “I think he’s done an unbelievable job both in coaching the linebackers and serving as the interim head coach. So we’re going to miss him. There’s a lot of expertise and experience there and there’s the relationship he has with the players. But, in this league and I think Joe would tell you the same thing, defensively, if someone leaves, someone has to step up. We have a plan in place. When we have to get to it, we will get to it.
“Losing Joe is tough. Again, he’s familiar with the guys. It’s a new defense. Everything is new to me in the building. The practice schedule, the weekly one, is a little different for me. That’s a part of adjusting in the league.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune