For years, I complained that 49ers head coach Mike Singletary was the worst at his job in the NFL. In this I was vindicated, as Jim Harbaugh took over the 49ers, and with essentially the same players on the roster, led the team to the NFC championship and was only three points from the super bowl.
This year, the worst coach in the NFL may be New Orleans’ Joe Vitt. Granted, Vitt shouldn’t be a head coach at all, and is only filling in for the wrongfully suspended Sean Payton. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–by suspending Payton, commissioner Roger Goodell is punishing the fans (of the Saints, and fans who just love good football), and punishing the NFL, which is nothing without it’s best players and coaches. I’m not sure how much of a role Vitt is playing, with Steve Spagnuolo running the defense and Drew Brees running the offense. But as the guy with the team’s challenge flags, Vitt looks utterly out of his depth.
On Sunday, Vitt challenged two calls, exemplifying how NOT to use the challenge flag. The first play was a second quarter run where the Saints running back was surrounded by what Mike Tanier calls “a mass of humanity.” It didn’t appear that the runner got the ball far enough for a first down, but even if he did, it would have been impossible to find a camera angle with a clean shot through the massive pile of bodies. There was no chance the call would be overturned: Vitt was just wishing it was a first down. Plays like that, where visual evidence is nonexistent, should never be challenged.
The second challenge came in the 4th quarter with the Saints down 31-21 and 7:50 on the clock. The call on the field was an incomplete pass, though replays showed clearly that Devery Henderson made the catch. The challenge changed a 3rd and 18 to a 3rd and 12, and left the Saints with no more challenges. The challenge gained the Saints nothing, they got a first down on a defensive holding penalty.
The bottom line is Joe Vitt doesn’t seem to be doing anything to put his team in a position to win.