It had been a while since reporters had heard from Tony Sparano, and so today the Jets’ new offensive coordinator checked in with “the beats” on a conference call. To give you an idea of how hard he’s pushing it already at the start of May, his call was scheduled to begin at 2:15 p.m. ET, but he wasn’t able to break out of his offensive meetings until after 2:50.
And when Sparano talks, people listen. It’s not because of what he says about his players because like Rex Ryan he generally speaks positively about the players he’s working with, and what he says behind those meeting room doors will stay there.
As he said when a writer said that the players have described his style as “no-nonsense” and how would he describe his approach to those players, he replied, “Non-nonsense, honestly.”
Expanding on that terse retort, Sparano said, “My approach has been to spend very little time talking about things that happened in the past and worry about what’s ahead for us. We know we have to improve, every one of us. I have to be a better coach. From the players’ standpoint, we all have to do the job there. My deal with the players now is that we have a handshake deal — I’m going to give you my best effort every single day, you can bet on that, and I expect the same from the players on this side of the football.”
As for particulars, Tony had plenty. Eric Allen, my partner, will have a news story about the favorite topic of the day, which was Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, even a dash of Greg McElroy, the Wildcat, improvement behind center, and managing the QB situation. I’ll give you a few of the other topics that Sparano handled with his typical informational tone provided with his Connecticut/Massachusetts lilt that, somehow sounded to me as if it had a little Chicago thrown in, although to my knowledge Tony S has never worked in the Windy City.
Offensive weapons in general — “Honestly, I’m very excited about it. One of the things I felt coming in here were just some of the outstanding parts here, I think Coach Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum have done a great job that way, in putting together some of the pieces here. Our tight ends, even some of the young players at the position, we’re anxious to see how they develop. The wide receivers, we’re anxious to see how Jeremy Kerley will come along, Tone and his ability out there, then you add a player like Stephen Hill to that group. I was part of drafting Pat Turner in Miami, so to see how he’s developed, a lot of these players have developed really well along the way. … I’m excited about the possibilities we have.”
Santonio Holmes’ skill set — “I think he has special ability. There’s an interesting take when you’ve been on the other sideline, in the other room preparing for the players the Jets have here right now, having to figure out how you’re going to handle Dustin Keller, Santonio Holmes, or the running game with Shonn Greene and that offensive line. I think this guy has really special ability. He can catch it and run with it. He makes the hard catches, the acrobatic catches. He works really hard at it. The guy wants the football. The thing I’ve noticed about Tone in my time being around this guy is that he’s a competitive guy. I like that. With the skill players, I just love that fact that those guys love to compete.”
Shonn Greene and the backfield — “I’ve been really, really impressed with Shonn. First of all from the mental standpoint, this guy’s excellent. He sees the field really well, he’s got a good understanding of what’s going on at that position. … Those guys have so many things to think about in terms of protections, the different run keys and so on. He’s working hard this offseason and I’m excited about what’s going on. We have a good group of young players. Joe McKnight I’m excited about, Bilal Powell, and John Conner, having a fullback go in and block you. This is an exciting group of players to work with.”
Wayne Hunter and the right tackle spot — “We obviously have a long time to go here before we get to opening day. Rex might’ve mentioned this before as well, but when I was in Miami, Wayne was coming up prior to the Jets re-signing him. We thought an awful lot about him and we wanted to bring him down there at that time. I had some history with him, I know his college line coach really well, I know what he’s thought of Wayne. Wayne has been tremendous here right now with us. So I’m excited about it, all those guys up front. It’s a good group with some good players up there and some good young players coming through as well.”
Sparano was also asked what he’s thought so far of working with Rex in the same complex rather than working against him on opposite sidelines.
“Honestly, it’s been tremendous,” he said. “I can’t thank Rex and Mike and Mr. Johnson for giving me this opportunity here. But getting a chance to work with him every day now, being around him every day — it’s contagious. … The way he coaches, Rex Coaches with a passion. He cares about his players, he wants to win so bad. You just want to be around people like that. For me, I wanted to be on a team where winning is the priority and there’s lot of passion and enthusiasm. That’s what I have here right now. So I love it. Rex has been great for me and I just want to be able to return the favor.”
There’s not a lot of controversy here, but there’s a sense that “No-Nonsense” Sparano has rolled up his sleeves and has gotten to work. He’s not going to tell you everything that’s going on, but we know he’s focused on the future, not the past. And his work will soon be on display, at the rookie and full-squad minicamps and for all to see in Cortland beginning in less than three months.
Tags: Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Santonio Holmes, Mike Tannenbaum, Dustin Keller, Tony Sparano, Shonn Greene, Wayne Hunter, Tim Tebow, Patrick Turner, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill
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