The New Orleans Saints have named Joe Vitt as interim coach, despite the top assistant's six-game suspension for his role in the club's bounty system.
The Saints had to find a one-season replacement for head coach Sean Payton, whose season-long suspension in connection with the bounty scandal begins Monday and runs through next February's Super Bowl.
Saints offensive line coach Aaron Kromer is expected to become New Orleans' other interim head coach this season during the first six games, while Vitt serves his suspension, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.
New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis said in the release Thursday that Vitt will take over on Monday.
"It is important that we keep Sean Payton's philosophy front and center during this season," Loomis said Thursday. "Sean has been the driving force behind the tremendous success our team has enjoyed during the past six years, his leadership will be missed. But we need to set a course of action that gives us the best chance to win this season without our head coach. ... 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."
The Saints' assistants who can pick up the slack during Vitt's absence include: offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Kromer and new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Carmichael, who also joined the Saints in 2006, began calling plays after Payton's injury last season. Payton allowed Carmichael to continue calling plays through the final 10 regular season games of 2011 as the Saints went 9-1 and broke numerous NFL offensive records.
From a fantasy perspective, Carmichael is the key component of the coaching staff, since he called the plays to close out the season in 2011 and will retain those duties in 2012. The Saints may not be quite as productive offensively without Payton, but we're not expecting a huge drop off with most of the same pieces in place.