The Offensive Boss – It’s Sparano Not Soprano
By Alex Parziale
A quick look at the name of the new NY Jets offensive coordinator may confuse people with the fictional NJ mob boss Tony Soprano. But make no mistakes about it, Tony Sparano is the boss of the NY Jet’s offense.
Back in 2008 the talk was all of Brett Favre and the NY Jets thriving into the playoffs. At the same time Sparano, then in his first season as Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins had his team quietly moving up in the standings. Sparano was doing this all with ex-NY Jet fan favorite Chad Pennington leading the way at QB. A showdown on the last game of the season in the Meadowlands turned into a meltdown for the NY Jets and Sparano and Pennington would go on and win the AFC East. The Dolphin 11-5 record seemed to be a promising start for the rookie head coach. But a pair of 7-9 seasons put Sparano on the hot seat. And after 13 games in 2011 the Dolphins had Sparano whacked. During his time with Miami, Sparano & Rex Ryan exchanged jabs in the media. Rex went for a procedure to lose weight, while Sporano chirped that he lost his weight with hard work and dieting. Sparano was also on the sidelines when he saw a NY Jet trainer trip his gunner along the sidelines during a punt.
To say the least these two teams and coaches were not exactly buddies.
After the NY Jets and offensive coordinator Bryan Schottenheimer parted ways, Rex knew he needed a no nonsense, tough coordinator to set the offensive crew straight. Sparano has the same philosophy of running the ball or as Rex puts it as “ground and pound”. Sparano also knows how to keep his players in line, which is one of the thins Schottenheimer was ridiculed for not being able to do. The Jet locker room coming off two AFC title appearances had some big egos and almost a feeling that they were entitled to making it to the post season every season. Well that was not the case last season, when a coddled QB seem to make more mental mistakes than his previous two seasons in the league. And ground and pound seemed to be just grounded most of the time. Patience grew short and soon you had a split locker room. Rex admitted after the season that he lost touch with his locker room and changes needed to be made.
Since Sparano started his first off season with the Jets he has been given praises from his offensive players and his head coach. As I am writing this Rex Ryan is giving an interview to Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton on 660 WFAN. To paraphrase Rex said that Tony will not put up with slackers on the field or off. He said that Tony is the type of guy who will throw out players in meetings who are not paying attention or chatting. He also said that Tony would not hesitate to throw out coaches in meetings who are not participating the way they should be.
Sparano comes into the media capital of the world. The other NY football team may have won it all last season, but the green and white seem to always capture the back pages of the paper, whether good or bad. To add more pressure on Tony, he inherits QB Mark Sanchez, who has recieved mixed reviews from his fellow players and yet to prove he can lead. Santonio Holmes who has yet to prove he is a team player or and probably the most loved, hated and famous back up in the history of the league in Tim Tebow. How will Sparano react if Sanchez goes three and out a few times in a game, throws two interceptions and the crowd at Met Life start chanting for Tebow? Will Sparano be the voice of reason with Rex? Or will Sparano just go with the popular choice and give Tebow the shot?
From what I have seen and heard Sparano will not succumb to the pressures of the fan base and the popular choice. Sporano will make the decisions on what he feels will work for his offensive crew. Who knows the Rex/Sparano competition from 2008-2011 maybe just the rigt combination the NY Jets need.