METAIRIE, La. — Saints offensive linemen Zach Strief and Jahri Evans tried — and failed — to think of a time when offensive line coach Aaron Kromer lost his temper and ripped into his charges during a game.
They've seen Kromer agitated by letdowns or mental lapses in practice, of course. But as far as they could recall, the man who will become the figurehead of New Orleans' coaching staff during the opening six games of the regular season has always responded to in-game adversity more rationally than emotionally.
"He's certainly a very calm sideline presence on game day, which players love," said Strief, the Saints' starting right tackle. "The last thing you want, when you're in the heat of it and you're trying to do as well as you can, is to have someone come and tell you you didn't.
"I don't need someone to tell me when I got beat ... and (Kromer) is very good at saying, ‘What happened? What did he do? What can you do differently?' He talks through things and he allows you to kind of figure it out, and it keeps us a lot more consistent and level headed," Strief continued. "I think he'll bring a lot of that to the sideline."
Kromer won't formally take over for assistant head coach Joe Vitt on a day-to-day basis until Vitt's bounty-related suspension kicks in at the start of Week 1 of the regular season. However, the Saints have directed Kromer to get used to the role of head coach during the final two preseason games, which are this Saturday night against Houston and next Thursday night at Tennessee.
Vitt took on head coaching duties when Sean Payton's season-long suspension began in mid-April. Vitt is expected to resume those duties when he returns, which won't be until Week 8 because the Saints have a bye in Week 6.
Kromer was a candidate to fill two head coaching vacancies last offseason. He was lined up to interview with St. Louis before the Rams hired Jeff Fisher. He also interviewed with Indianapolis, which hired Chuck Pagano.
While Kromer said he maintains aspirations to be an NFL head coach, he does not view his temporary assignment with New Orleans as an audition.
"I'm going to hold this thing over until Joe Vitt gets back. I'm going to hold the fort," Kromer said. "It's important that Drew Brees feels this is Sean Payton's program. This is the way we do things. This is the way we did it in 2009 to win the Super Bowl. This is the way we did it in 2011 to win 14 football games. This is the formula that we have followed to have success. ... I'm a fill-in for the fill-in."
While Kromer was widely expected to be Vitt's fill-in, the Saints did not announce that until Wednesday night.
There were several qualified candidates on staff, but in the end, Kromer seemed to make the most sense because he is close to Payton, and because appointing him allows offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. and new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to keep their focus narrowed more on game planning and play calling for their units.
"We had a bunch of great candidates," Brees said. "Really, there was no wrong choice. There was a bunch of right choices."
Kromer came to New Orleans in 2008 following stints in Oakland and Tampa Bay.