- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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The New Orleans Saints, who already have faced a lot of turmoil this offseason, made a wise move Wednesday night. They took the path of least possible disruption by announcing that Aaron Kromer will be filling in as head coach for the first six games of the regular season.
Head coach Sean Payton is serving a season-long suspension for his role in what the NFL said was a three-year bounty program. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt has been running the team in Payton’s absence, but he has to step aside Sept. 3 to begin his own six-game suspension.
There had been indications the Saints would go with Kromer, who is their offensive line coach/running game coach, over offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. The thinking was that would allow Spagnuolo, who previously was a head coach, to focus entirely on defense, and allow Carmichael to do the same on offense.
That’s pretty much what general manager Mickey Loomis said in the statement the team issued to formally announce the decision. “This was a difficult decision because we have several coaches on our staff that would do a great job in this role,” Loomis said. “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.”
Kromer has been with the Saints since 2008 and is popular with the players and other assistant coaches. There will be a lot of things that aren't normal for the Saints this year. But by making Kromer the temporary head coach, the Saints have made things as close to normal as possible.
“Aaron knows Sean’s system very well and how he would be expected to operate this team,” quarterback Drew Brees said. “We have a very strong coaching staff and Aaron is a coach that is very well respected in our locker room.”