Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tony 'Not-tenheimer' Sparano is opposite of Schotty

Photo: Marianne O'Leary, Flickr 

Former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer's departure from New York was probably long overdue, but the sides didn't have a spot for a clean break until Gang Green went 8-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time under head coach Rex Ryan.

Schottenheimer was relieved of his duties in January and went on to take the Rams' offensive coordinator job. Meanwhile, the Jets replaced Schottenheimer with a guy who is nothing like his predecessor.

Gang Green hired former Dolphins coach, former Cowboys offensive coordinator and offensive line guru Tony Sparano to right the wayward ship that is the Jets' offense.

Players have responded very positively to the change through OTAs and minicamp, and it's probably because Sparano and his philosophies are a much better fit with what the Ryan-era Jets are trying to do.

Rather than simply designing plays to take defensive backs out of position based on route-running and assignments, Schotty's offense had his players motioning pre-snap based on the coverage read in order to throw off the defense. But it didn't shake defenses. Instead, the Jets' offensive players spent more time and energy thinking than doing, resulting in miscommunication, poor routes, missed assignments and zero rhythm.

Sparano's offense is much more straightforward. Players are in and out of the huddle quicker, and less pre-snap motion results in a faster pace and better rhythm.

"We were just thinking so much," running back Joe McKnight told Conor Orr of the Star-Ledger in June regarding Schottenheimer's offense. "(Sparano) just made it more easy for us this year." McKnight added that Sparano's scheme is about winning matchups rather than changing assignments based on coverage.

While the Jets' former and current offensive coordinators are obviously both extremely competitive, their attitudes and mentalities are "night and day," as tackle Wayne Hunter told reporters during OTAs.

Tony Sparano is a no-nonsense dude. It comes with the territory given his offensive line background. Sparano holds players accountable and is able to motivate players by earning their respect with his hands-on style.

Schottenheimer's approach, from this perspective, didn't appear to be very hands-on. When things didn't go as planned, instead of making adjustments or coaching up players, Schottenheimer just drilled the play over and over. That was evident by his predictability. Schottenheimer seemed to be more focused on schematics than technique.

Schottenheimer tried to continually fit a square peg into a round hole. Sparano is working to cut the hole square so the two can fit.

It's likely Sparano will make the Jets' offense much better, as he'll not only utilize players to better fit their skill sets, but his offensive philosophy meshes with Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's aggressive approach on the other side of the ball.

Schotty is obviously a very good football mind, as he's been in the mix for multiple head-coaching jobs throughout the past half-decade, but his welcome in New York was worn out, even before the 2011 season began.

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