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Vitt Does Not Like Bear Balls In His Face

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; LB coach Vitt keeps last year in perspective Sunday, June 03, 2007Peter Finney Until I had a minicamp chat with Joe Vitt, who coaches linebackers for Sean Payton, I was under the impression the Saints won 11 games last season ...

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Old 06-03-2007, 07:54 AM   #1
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Vitt Does Not Like Bear Balls In His Face

LB coach Vitt keeps last year in perspective
Sunday, June 03, 2007Peter Finney
Until I had a minicamp chat with Joe Vitt, who coaches linebackers for Sean Payton, I was under the impression the Saints won 11 games last season and lost seven, the final defeat coming at the hands of the Chicago Bears in a contest to determine who would represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLI.

All along, I felt the Saints, with a new coaching staff and a bunch of new players, had made one of the classic turnarounds in NFL history, climbing from a cellar-dwelling 3-13 to within a shot at a world championship.

But there was Vitt setting me straight.

Behind the darting eyes of a blue-collar warrior who has been in the league for 29 years and made eight coaching stops, his message was far more sobering than euphoric.

The 2006 Saints were not 11-7.

They were 0-1.

"I still have the taste of a snowball in the face," Vitt's saying of that 39-14 beating on Jan. 21 at Soldier Field. "As far as I'm concerned, everything that came before is history. I draw the curtain on that. All I want to know now is what we're going to do about the memory of that snowball."

For Vitt, the 2006 season came down to "Mission Not Accomplished."

So what about 2007?

"Here's the challenge," he said. "A team never stays the same. It gets better or it gets worse. It's up to us, the players and the coaches."

Compared with how the linebackers performed in former Saints coach Jim Haslett's final season, the 2006 infusion of Scott Fujita, Scott Shanle and Mark Simoneau blossomed into a remarkable turnaround that produced three interceptions, three forced fumbles, 11 pass breakups and 8 1/2 sacks.

This was on a defense that ranked second to last in the league in forcing turnovers (19), with 11 interceptions and eight fumble recoveries.

It's no surprise forcing turnovers is No. 1 on Payton's hit list. And there were Vitt's linebackers back at square one at minicamp working on technique.

While the crowd was on hand to watch Drew Brees throw to anyone, linebackers were busy working on basics that go unnoticed -- knee bends, ankle flex, eye position, hand position, feet position and quick twitch.

For the most part, defensive linemen are occupied in pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run, the secondary in defending the pass.

The linebackers are part of both worlds.

"Sometimes," says Vitt, "it gets down to a basketball game of five on five, especially with the way they're throwing the ball around today. Linebackers are defending the pass, defending the run, blitzing, taking on blockers."

As for Vitt, he feels fortunate in having two blue-collar faces to coach in his first season for Payton and defensive coordinator Gary Gibbs.

Fujita and Shanle were part of a "Cowboy Connection." Fujita was a walk-on in college who entered Cal-Berkeley as a 6-foot-4, 210-pound safety and came out a 6-5 250-pound linebacker. A fifth-round pick by Kansas City, he was a Cowboy during Payton's final season on Bill Parcells' staff, playing for then-linebackers coach Gibbs. Shanle, a seventh-round pick by the Rams in 2003, found his way to Dallas and arrived here in a trade shortly after the 2006 season.

"I remember my first meeting with Coach Vitt at the (scouting) combine the year I was drafted," Shanle said. "You meet someone like him, and you don't forget it. It's his intensity. You play for him, and it doesn't take you long to realize he's making you a better player."

Fujita remembers the day in Kansas City he got a call from the linebackers coach telling him he was going to start.

"It was the fourth game of my rookie season," Fujita said. "Coach Vitt gave me my first opportunity, and I'll always be grateful. I remember last year, when we were going into the playoffs, and I'm thinking, as much as I wanted to win a championship for myself, I wanted to win it more for Coach Vitt. Here's someone who's been in the league for almost 30 years, and he's never been part of a championship team. No one deserves it more."

Could 2007 be the year?

Come to think of it, it's the only way Vitt would be able to get rid of a bad taste left from a snowball thrown by a bunch of Bears.

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Old 06-03-2007, 09:48 AM   #2
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Good Little Read

This is a good read. I like this guy's attitude, and I think it's important to have the leader of your LBs instill this competitive, aggressive mindset into the linebackers. It's one of the most important positions we can improve to see a dramatic difference on the field come Sunday.

With great linebackers, the middle ground is taken away - there are no easy yards. Either you're going to get lucky on a busted play, or one of your wide receivers gets open downfield - but no easy middle ground yardage.

I'm excited to have the chance to play Chicago again, last game of the season, IN Chicago. I picture that as a game of significant importance, because if we win THAT one - our team will feel justified and vindicated heading into the playoffs. If we can do that, we can do anything.
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Old 06-04-2007, 06:54 PM   #3
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... 2005 looks oh so far behind in the rear view mirror, doesn't it?
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Old 06-04-2007, 07:06 PM   #4
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IMHO, I hope the Saints will give Rex Grossman and the Bears one hell of a bad smack in the mouth on New Years Eve in chicago. FWIW, I dont hate the city itself, in fact I am a big cubs fan, I like Derrek Lee as a baseball player, but I hate the Bears and their punk fans. One of my professors here at South Alabama who is from chicago told me he was rooting for the Saints becuase he hated how his hometonw team treated Saints fans in the NFCCG.

I was very angry at how the people at Soldier Field treated Saints fans as a result, it was disgraceful and mean. This time will be different, becuase this duel will be war and I believe in a Saintly Karma coming back to bite the Bears in the asses.

We owe them big time.

So sayeth the Saintman2884
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Old 06-05-2007, 12:30 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Saintman2884 View Post
IMHO, I hope the Saints will give Rex Grossman and the Bears one hell of a bad smack in the mouth on New Years Eve in chicago. FWIW, I dont hate the city itself, in fact I am a big cubs fan, I like Derrek Lee as a baseball player, but I hate the Bears and their punk fans. One of my professors here at South Alabama who is from chicago told me he was rooting for the Saints becuase he hated how his hometonw team treated Saints fans in the NFCCG.

I was very angry at how the people at Soldier Field treated Saints fans as a result, it was disgraceful and mean. This time will be different, becuase this duel will be war and I believe in a Saintly Karma coming back to bite the Bears in the asses.

We owe them big time.

So sayeth the Saintman2884
Oh don't I know it. I'm seriously bitter. Look up the word retribution in the dictionary and you get what's coming to these cocky, arrogant turds
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Old 06-05-2007, 02:51 AM   #6
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The game comes down to home field advantage for the playoffs and we win. Then the Bears come here and face us on our turf. That would be sweet.
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Old 06-05-2007, 08:27 AM   #7
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After hearing the things the Bears fans said - the Katrina jokes - I would get kicked off the board if I really said my peice here.

There's a grizzly-sized butt-whoopin' brewing in the Gulf of Mexico.
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Old 06-05-2007, 08:30 AM   #8
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The Bears lost T.Jones, and now don't have Briggs or Tank to start the season. Grossman is Grossman, and their wideouts are mediocre. Put them in another division and they are 8-8.

That game might just be as meaningless as the Carolina game last year.
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Old 06-05-2007, 11:18 AM   #9
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Letting T Jones get away is going to hurt that bad offense terribly. Unless Grossman improves, there is no way they do as well as last year without him.
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Old 06-05-2007, 01:14 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ScottyRo View Post
Letting T Jones get away is going to hurt that bad offense terribly. Unless Grossman improves, there is no way they do as well as last year without him.
I agree-

that offense is not good enough to lose a 1200 yard rusher. Losing TJ hurts the defense as well, by say ... another 4-5 minutes of ToP per game.

They are at SD in week 1, home to Dallas week 3, at GB week 5 and at Philly week 7. They will be 4-3 at best, maybe 3-4 or 2-5
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