The Evolution of New York Jets Coach Rex Ryan: 2012

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Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

This is the 4th part of a 5 part series on the evolution of Rex Ryan. You can find parts 1-3 here, here and here.

As 2011 finished and the team ended up fractured and out of the playoffs some changes needed to be made. One change was at Offensive Coordinator where Brian Schottenheimer was removed and replaced by Tony Sparano, a man Rex picked because he shared the Ground and Pound philosophy. Sparano, who was recently fired as the Head Coach of the Dolphins, had only one year of offensive play calling experience and that was with the Cowboys in 2006.  Here are Rex Ryan’s thought process on hiring Sparano from a May 27th press conference:

“It’s funny, because I never liked him,” Ryan replied. “It was the same way. I always looked at him, ‘Shoot, this guy.’ My biggest thing is, he thought he was tougher than me. He thought his team was tougher than mine, and I thought mine was tougher than his, and I thought I was tougher than him. “But one thing I always did was I respected him. I recognize him being an outstanding football coach and his teams played hard. You could tell he was passionate about the game. That was why it was easy for me when we had a job open, that’s the first guy I went to.”

The hiring didn’t work out as the offense only averaged 15.6 points per game, the play calling came under question as did his use of personnel, specifically his use of Wildcat (including spread-option) packages. The way he pulled Sanchez after a positive play and inserted Tebow for a play or two threw off the rhythm of the offense and did more harm than good. Sparano was not helped by Shonn Greene’s plodding running, the lack of separation from a depleted wide receiver group, an injury to Santonio Holmes, and the many turnovers of quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Speaking of the Sanchez/Tebow dynamic ,the other notable 2012 transaction was the acquisition of Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos. Tebow famously led the Broncos to the playoffs after a 1-4 start with most of the games playing out with Tebow performing poorly for 3 quarters then leading a 4th quarter comeback for the victory. Tebow ran the read option offense that he had run while he was in college at Florida. He was a run-first quarterback who was and is very limited as a passer. What differentiates Tebow from other quarterbacks is the cult of followers, including the media, that surround him. These people are only fans of Tim’s and root for the starting quarterback to fail so Tebow can play. For example in Denver, they put up billboards begging John Fox to start Tebow. Tebow for his part refused to tell the fans to stop it and support the starter, Kyle Orton despite the urging of his teammates.

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