Tony Sparano is Not the Key to Offensive Success in 2012
By Alan Schechter
June 12, 2012; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano during New York Jets Minicamp at the Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE
OK, you read the title and have my bold statement of the afternoon. That got your attention, huh?
Don’t get me wrong, Tony Sparano will have a major impact on the offense’s success in 2012, but he is not THE key. Neither is the return to “Ground and Pound”, by the way. Scheme is important, and certainly having an identity is important as we have discussed, but it is not the major key in 2012.
We are entering year 4 of the Rex Ryan era, and after an 8-8 season, it’s a big one as we know. The team is flying under the radar a bit, as far as the “experts” are concerned, but those around the team expect success.
They especially expect success from the offense, with the change at the top, and return to a familiar gameplan. This will be a major factor in 2012 success. There will be many others, but only one major key.
We can talk all day about schemes, coordinators, decision making at QB, Santonio Holmes’ attitude, and everything else. But there is one key that will impact all of those, and be the key to offensive success.
That key? THE OFFENSIVE LINE Why?
Because when the offensive line falls apart, the team falls apart.
Turn the page and we will discuss.
First, an obvious reason:
We can talk about the return of the ground and pound all we like. Tony Sparano is getting the team to a physical style of play, which is great. He is a perfectionist, and is not letting his team get away with any mistakes. Also great.
Tony Sparano will estabish an identity of running the football from day one. Don’t get me wrong, this is wonderful news. We can talk about this, as well as how his offense is apparently easier to understand that Schotty’s.
But if the offensive line doesn’t open up the holes, none of it matters. If Wayne Hunter and company watch linemen shove them out of the way, the offense will be no more effective under Sparano than Schottenheimer.
Now, we will talk about the ripple effects the line has:
IF the offensive line doesn’t perform, it has a major effect on the passing game.
Mark Sanchez comes under fire for his decision making, and it is understandable. You can watch a Jets game and for all of the great throws that he makes, you have to scratch your head on many of the other throws.
But, a lot of that falls on the offensive line. Even when you have a great offensive line, the quarterback’s decision making time is approximately 3 seconds. Count that in your head. We fans don’t do a lot in three seconds, do we? A quarterback has that amount of time to choose what throw to make, and make it accurately. When you have poor offensive line play, that time goes down to 1.5 seconds, maybe even less.
Anyone would make bad decisions when you have 1.5 seconds to make them. Of if a guy over 300 pounds is running after you, same thing.
When the offensive line breaks down, all elements break down.
It affects the wide receivers as much as it does the quarterback. When the quarterback has less time to throw, the wide receivers have less time to finish their routes. It leads to miscommunication, broken plays, and turnovers.
When the offensive line breaks down, all of the elements break down.
Don’t forget the effect this will have on Tony Sparano’s job as well. He will be the play caller for the offense, and setting the tone of ground and pound. This is great, as we have discussed at length.
However, if the offensive line isn’t playing well, the running game won’t get off the ground. There will be a lot of second and longs, and third and longs, which will lead to more passing plays. As much as they want to pound it, they won’t be able to if it is constantly 3rd and 10 or longer.
If there are more third and longs, the Jets won’t be scoring a lot. They will be playing low scoring games anyway, but the team will score even less if they are in third and longs, as they are not built that way. If they are behind, they won’t be able to ground and pound, and that will mean more passing plays.
The bottom line is that there are a lot of factors that will be in play for the Jets offense to be successful in 2012. But there is one key.
The offensive line.