Saints Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach Joe Vitt will assume the day-to-day duties of Saints Head Coach Sean Payton in his absence, effective April 16, it was announced today by Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.
"It is important that we keep Sean Payton's philosophy front and center during this season. Sean has been the driving force behind the tremendous success our team has enjoyed during the past six years, his leadership will be missed," said Loomis. "But we need to set a course of action that gives us the best chance to win this season without our head coach, and that is why I am announcing today that Joe Vitt will assume Sean's duties. We considered a number of great options to handle Payton's duties both internally and externally, but believe this will provide the most seamless transition for our players and our coaching staff, allowing our offensive and defensive staffs to remain intact with the fewest changes. This is the same structure we used last season during Sean's knee injury."
"This is about our program, and the continued success of our program," said Saints Owner Tom Benson. "Joe has been part of building our success along with our Head Coach Sean Payton and our General Manager Mickey Loomis. We are looking forward to the start of the offseason program, the NFL Draft, our minicamps and training camp. We are looking forward to the start of our season, as I know that all of our fans are and we are looking forward to competing and winning a championship right here in our own city, in our own stadium this year."
Vitt, entering his seventh season with the Saints, served as acting head coach during Head Coach Sean Payton's medical leave in 2011 due to a knee injury and subsequent surgery/rehabilitation.
Loomis added, "We will work through the offseason under this plan and when we get to training camp we will decide on a course of action for the first six weeks of the season, while Joe Vitt is unavailable. We are fortunate to have a great veteran coaching staff well equipped to handle this challenge. Joe and Sean have worked closely together to build our program, one of the most successful in the NFL in the past six years, and I have the fullest confidence that Joe will continue that success that Sean has brought us."