The New Orleans Saints have announced that offensive line/running backs coach Aaron Kromer will serve as the teams interim head coach while Joe Vitt serves his six-game suspension to start the season.
Greg Bensel made the official announcement via Twitter just minutes ago.
This answers the question everyone has had since since learning of the Sean Payton and Joe Vitt suspensions. Kromer was on the short list of possibilities so I don't think anyone should be surprised.
SAINTS DESIGNATE AARON KROMER TO REPLACE JOE VITTFor Immediate Release: August 22, 2013Metairie, La. – (cont) tl.gd/ivp5u2— Greg Bensel (@GregBensel) August 22, 2012
Make the jump for the official Saints media release in its entirety.
SAINTS DESIGNATE AARON KROMER TO REPLACE JOE VITT
For Immediate Release: August 22, 2013
Metairie, La. - Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis has designated Offensive Line/Running Game Coach Aaron Kromer to replace Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Joe Vitt during his absence.
Kromer, entering his fifth season with the Saints, brings 22 years of coaching experience to the coaching staff, the majority of it developing and tutoring offensive linemen. He has also been responsible for coordinating the rushing attack. He will officially take over the duties on Monday, September 3.
"This was a difficult decision because we have several coaches on our staff that would do a great job in this role," said Loomis. "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."
Loomis was deliberate in making his decision, speaking at length with Vitt as well as other members of the organization.
"Aaron has been with us since 2008, he has coached with Sean both in college and here at the Saints. He is very familiar with our team and with the methods we have been successful with. He will do a great job," added Loomis.
After initially coaching the Saints running backs in 2008, Kromer has overseen the Saints offensive line the past three seasons. The former college offensive lineman has developed the skills of seven Pro Bowl blockers during his time in the NFL, including three in 2011. Known for his teaching skills and attention to detail, five Saints blockers have been selected to the Pro Bowl under Kromer's direction. The line has allowed the third-lowest sack total in the past three seasons in the NFL. In both 2009 and 2011, the New Orleans offensive line has been honored with the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award, awarded annually to the best offensive line in the NFL.
"The job our staff has done during Sean's absence has been remarkable," said Vitt. "We have great talent and depth on our coaching staff, but most importantly we have guys on this coaching staff that clearly understand the foundation of success that Sean has built and I feel great that Aaron and the rest of the staff will continue to build on that foundation."
"I appreciate the confidence that Mr. Benson and Mickey have in me to handle this duty while Coach Vitt and Coach Payton are not with us," said Kromer. "Coach Payton has laid a successful foundation here and our jobs are to make sure we keep moving in that direction."
"Aaron knows Sean's system very well and how he would be expected to operate this team," said Saints QB Drew Brees. "We have a very strong coaching staff and Aaron is a coach that is very well respected in our locker room."
After managing an offensive line in which all five players had started 22 consecutive regular season games, Kromer played a vital role in the development of two first-time starters in T Zach Strief and C Brian de la Puente in 2011. The line allowed the second-fewest in the NFL, and played an instrumental role in blocking for an offense that set the league's single-season yardage record as well as several other NFL marks. A resurgent run game ranked sixth in the league in the club's most productive season since 1987, grinding out 132.9 yards per game.