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Joe Vitt
Assistant Head Coach / Linebackers

Tutoring a unit that since 2006 has annually ranked among the Saints’ most productive position groups, assistant head coach/linebackers Joe Vitt enters his 11th season in New Orleans.

Tutoring a unit that since 2006 has annually ranked among the Saints’ most productive position groups, assistant head coach/linebackers Joe Vitt enters his 11th season in New Orleans.

Vitt has consistently obtained solid results from veterans, while also helping develop younger players. 2015 was no different, as he garnered production from a pair of draft picks in Stephone Anthony and Hau’oli Kikaha. The club’s second first round draft pick, Anthony immediately assumed the reigns of the middle linebacker position and led the club with a club-best 144 tackles and filled up the stat sheet with one sack, one interception, five passes defensed, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and a defensive two-point conversion. Hau’oli Kikaha, the club’s second round draft pick, led NFL rookies with four forced fumbles and ranked second among defensive rookies with nine total impact plays (sacks, forced fumbles, interceptions and fumble recoveries). Veterans Dannell Ellerbe, David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber combined for 125 stops.

Several former Saints also enjoyed very productive stints under Vitt. Jonathan Vilma led the Saints in tackles three times and was selected to the Pro Bowl twice. Scott Shanle posted 673 stops over seven seasons. Scott Fujita provided four solid seasons from the strongside position with a nose for the ball, posting 417 tackles, including three consecutive seasons of over 100 stops, 7.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and six takeaways. Curtis Lofton led New Orleans in tackles from 2012-14, including a club-record 185 stops in 2014.

One of the most tenured and respected assistants on the Saints staff, as assistant head coach, Vitt helps Head Coach Sean Payton in a variety of areas related to the team. In 2012 he assumed Payton’s duties, guiding the club through a challenging period.

Vitt came to the Saints after serving as interim head coach for the final 11 games in St. Louis in 2005. He held the Rams together during a difficult period after previously holding the title of assistant head coach/linebackers. It was part of a two-year stint with the Rams where he also turned a handful of young defenders into a unit that paced the team in tackles each season.

He joined St. Louis after working as linebackers coach in Kansas City from 2000-03. It was with the Chiefs where he first worked with Fujita, a fifth-round pick who developed into one of Kansas City’s top defenders and led them in tackles twice.

Vitt took over the linebacker corps in Kansas City after tutoring the Green Bay defensive backs in 1999, molding a legion of rookies and young players into a formidable unit that doubled the Packers’ previous-year total by picking off 26 passes.

From 1995-98, Vitt was linebackers coach for Philadelphia, where he first worked with Payton. In 1998, his group helped the Eagles lead the NFL in pass defense, allowing 170 yards per game. Vitt was assistant head coach and defensive backs coach with the Rams under Chuck Knox from 1992-94 for the franchise’s final three seasons in Los Angeles.

Vitt spent 10 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks (1982-91), holding several titles during that stretch. In 1982, he was defensive quality control coach/assistant strength & conditioning coach. From 1983-87, Vitt was quality control/assistant linebackers coach, and from 1988-91 he tutored the safeties.

Born in Syracuse, N.Y., Vitt grew up in Blackwood, N.J. and played four years at linebacker for Towson State, where he was part of a squad that went undefeated in 1974. He and his teammates on the 1976 squad that were the NCAA Division III runner-ups in only the program’s eighth season of existence were honored as a Team of Distinction by the school’s Hall of Fame in 2009. He entered the NFL coaching ranks with the Baltimore Colts as strength/quality control coach from 1979-81.

An avid supporter of members of the United States military, Vitt was the club’s 2012 and 2013 nominee for the NFL Salute to Service Award.

PLAYING CAREER: Towson State, 1974-77.

COACHING CAREER: Baltimore Colts, 1979-81; Seattle Seahawks, 1982-91; Los Angeles Rams, 1992-94; Philadelphia Eagles, 1995-98; Green Bay Packers, 1999; Kansas City Chiefs, 2000-03; St. Louis Rams, 2004-05; New Orleans Saints, 2006-.

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