Joe Vitt: Jonathan Vilma, Scott Fujita 'like my sons'
Joe Vitt is working to settle into his new role as interim head coach of the New Orleans Saints as the club works through OTA’s.
Vitt said today that the absence of quarterback Drew Brees, who has not shown up because he does not have a long-term deal, cannot be a distraction. Unfortunately, the entire offseason has been one giant distraction for the Saints, and perhaps getting on the field and doing some work with the players will bring the focus back to football.
Vitt was asked by reporters about his reaction to the lawsuit linebacker Joanthan Vilma, suspended for the entire season for his role in the bounty scandal, filed against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, accusing him of defamation.
“That is his Constitutional right,” Vitt said. “I have said this before: Scott Fujita and Jonathan Vilma are like my sons. I don’t know that I have ever been closer to two players in my career. I know their intent every time they take the football field. I know the way they play and the way they prepare. I know their character and pride. That is his right.”
Of course, Fujita has also been suspended by Goodell for his part in the bounty program, a story the Saints simply cannot escape.
Vitt, who has been the assistant head coach and linebackers coach, likes the transition to defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to this point.
“Spags is a hands-on coach,” Vitt said. “He loves to teach. He loves to have the whole defense in there so everybody is on the same page. I would categorize him as a player’s coach. He puts a lot of the decision-making on the player in the course of practice and the course of a game. He doesn’t dwell on mistakes. I think he is going to produce a very positive atmosphere around here for us.”
Is there a back-handed swipe at ex-coordinator Gregg Williams in there? Maybe. Use your own judgment in this instance.
Overall, Vitt is trying to find his way as he works to lead the club in the absence of coach Sean Payton.
“What I have done this week is I have tried to concentrate on the practice and feel the linebackers,” Vitt said. “Next week, I want to really concentrate on coaching the linebackers and feeling the practice. This is a transition for me and I have to do whatever is best for our football team. I am not going to lie to you, I am still finding my way a little bit.”
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune