There was no doubt some magic was in the air last Sunday when the New Orleans Saints faced the San Diego Chargers. It may have been because it was a home game or that quarterback Drew Brees was poised to break Johnny Unitas’ consecutive passing touchdown record. But was it something or better yet someone else?
The suspended trio of head coach Sean Payton, linebackers coach Joe Vitt, and general manager Mickey Loomis were also in the building thanks to the plea from Brees to the NFL in order to let them attend the record setting night.
Along with watching Brees throw his way into the record books, the crowd was also watching the suite levels in order to find the suspended staff. Payton was actually in a suite just behind us and people in our section constantly turned around to watch him along with the game.
They waved, cheered, and many gave thumbs up signs to Payton who could be seen watching the game with an intense sideline demeanor when he wasn’t engaged with his son Conner. After the game, chants of “Free Sean Payton” broke out as he stood up and overlooked the field.
While you don’t want to take away from the play calling by interim head coach Aaron Kromer, offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr., and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the Saints likely got a boost from their coaches and general manager being present.
Especially with Payton and Vitt, players have often cited that while the coaches will share light moments, they also have the ability to be like the father that you don’t want to disappoint either. You know that they love you, but you know you’ll get hammered for making a silly mistake.
It could be said that that was what the Saints have been lacking in the first four games was the fire and brimstone that have been present when Payton and Vitt have been there. While not always perfect, confidence from leaders trickle down to their people.
Kromer may not be the most terrible coach, but he is not the one that the Saints seem to respond to with great results. One fan I talked to before the game brought back up a dreaded name from the past. When asked how he felt about Kromer he responded, “He’s Haslett!” This in reference to former somber head coach Jim Haslett.
Kromer will prepare for his final game as interim head coach as the Saints will travel to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 21st. Then Vitt will take over the wheel for the remainder of the season.
Yes, the Saints have a few more woes to fix, especially on it’s defensive unit and offensive run game, Vitt should bring back a spark that has been missing since Week 1 and coincidentally found itself last week when he and the others were present.
Though Vitt won’t be out on the field running the plays himself, the presence of the salty coach should bring back some of the bite we’ve seen in the past from the once dominant team.