NEW YORK (AP) - Tony Sparano sat in front of Rex Ryan and rattled off his offensive philosophies and thoughts on how to be a winning football team. He said exactly everything the New York Jets coach needed to hear.
“It was like, ‘Wow!’ I was blown away,” Ryan said Friday. “This is the guy I wanted.”
So did general manager Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson. After the team and Brian Schottenheimer decided to mutually part ways early in the week, they knew Sparano was the perfect fit to be the Jets‘ new offensive coordinator.
Yep, just the way Ryan likes his offense to be. Sparano wants the Jets to focus primarily again on the running game, but wants to also get the ball down the field _ an element New York sorely lacked this season. The Jets had just three plays of 40 yards or more all season, tied with St. Louis for fewest in the NFL.
“We’ll be explosive,” Sparano insisted.
Sparano was hired Wednesday, just more than 12 hours after New York announced that Schottenheimer told the Jets he wouldn’t return next season despite having two years left on his contract. Schottenheimer was highly criticized for the Jets‘ inconsistencies as they ranked 25th overall in offense. He also took a lot of the blame for quarterback Mark Sanchez not progressing as expected in his third year.
New York was a “Ground-and-Pound” offense during Ryan’s first two seasons, riding that style to two straight AFC title games. But when the Jets re-signed Santonio Holmes and brought in Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, they became enthralled with the passing game and wanted Sanchez to air out the football a little more.
“I’m a guy who believes you have to form an identity,” Sparano said. “I want to have an identity here offensively. I want our players to be able to walk into the meeting room and not be surprised about things that are going in the game plan each week, because they believe that we’re going to do them really well.”
“I think we’re definitely like-minded people and like-minded coaches,” Ryan said. “We believe in running the football and protecting the quarterback, and I think those are the two biggest things in my opinion.”
Sparano, fired as Miami’s coach last month, is high on Sanchez, despite lots of talk by fans and media insisting the Jets need a change at quarterback. A few players were also anonymously quoted saying similar things. From afar, Sparano has liked a lot of what he has seen from Sanchez.
Sparano highlighted Sanchez’s ability to get out of trouble with his legs and athleticism, along with a good release and being able to make all the necessary throws. Sparano has been involved with the process of developing quarterbacks before _ Tony Romo in Dallas and Chad Henne in Miami _ and believes he can do the same with Sanchez.