New Orleans Saints Coaching History—Joe Vitt (2012)

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Joe Vitt
(Photo: Parker Waters)

An undersized linebacker at Towson State, Joe Vitt may not have had the size to play in the NFL but he had the mind and the desire to do so. He would fulfill that dream.

Vitt began his now four decade career as a quality control coach for the Baltimore Colts in 1979 and he would stay there through 1981. Vitt went to Seattle to assume the same position in 1982 and was promoted to assistant linebackers coach of the Seahawks in 1983. Then, he became safeties coach 1988 and Vitt stayed in Seattle through 1991, a 10-year stint.

Vitt then went to the Los Angeles Rams as defensive backs coach in 1992, serving three seasons, before joining the Philadelphia Eagles staff as linebackers coach in 1995. Vitt stayed with Philadelphia through 1998 and was named defensive backs coach of the Packers in 1999.

Then came a four-year stint as linebackers coach with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2000-03. Vitt got his first opportunity close to the top of a coaching staff with the St. Louis Rams, becoming assistant head coach and linebackers coach in 2004 and remaining through 2005.

Then, Sean Payton came to New Orleans and offered Vitt the same titles as assistant head coach and linebackers coach in 2006 and that began a long, prosperous relationship.

Vitt was most likely Payton’s closest, most trusted ally on his staff in New Orleans. The marriage lasted 11 years before Vitt departed following the 2016 season to become a consultant for the Miami Dolphins. Now, Vitt is the outside linebackers coach with the New York Jets.

In 2012, the Saints were in total disarray as a result of severe sanctions handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

With Sean Payton suspended, Vitt was also suspended for six games for their roles in what became known as BountyGate.

Aaron Kromer would coach the Saints on an Interim basis for the first six games of the 2012 season.

When Vitt came off of suspension, he took over as Interim head coach.

The Saints were 2-4, at the time.

Under Vitt, the Saints lost their first game 34-14 at Denver to Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

Then, New Orleans caught fire, winning three straight games to get to 5-5, beating Philadelphia, Atlanta and Oakland, averaging better than 32 points per game in the victories. In the three wins combined, Drew Brees threw eight touchdown passes with just one interception.

Hope was alive and well that the Saints could resurrect what had appeared to be a lost season and still make the playoffs once again.

That hope would disappear quickly, as New Orleans lost its next three games, including an embarrassing 52-27 loss to the Giants in New Jersey.

In strange fashion, the porous Saints defense went from allowing 52 points to the Giants to shutting out Tampa Bay 41-0 the next week.

Then, the defense returned to its previous ways in a 34-31 win over Dallas and a 44-38 loss to the Panthers to end the season.

The Saints gave up 27 or more points 11 times. New Orleans lost five games by eight points or less.

Brees was superb once again, tossing 43 touchdown passes, the second most of his illustrious career, though he did throw 19 interceptions, the most in his career.

Marques Colston had 10 touchdown catches, Jimmy Graham had nine while Darren Sproles had seven touchdown receptions. Cam Jordan had eight sacks and Curtis Lofton led the team with 123 tackles.

Vitt did a good job of keeping things together in very difficult times.

When Payton returned in 2013, Vitt returned to being assistant head coach and linebackers coach for Payton.

Vitt coined the phrase that when you win together, you will walk together forever. It was a rallying cry for the Saints all during that illustrious period (outside of 2012) in franchise history.

Vitt was a very valued, solid member of a Super Bowl championship team and five playoff teams with the Saints.

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Ken Trahan

Ken Trahan

CEO/Owner

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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