Jets have to hire two coordinators as Tony Sparano, Mike Pettine won't be back
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A year ago, Rex Ryan said he and Tony Sparano were "like-minded" coaches. But on Tuesday, the Jets coach rattled off reasons why Sparano no longer fits his newfound vision for the team.
Ryan confirmed Sparano was fired Monday night and is one and done as offensive coordinator after a disappointing season in which the Jets' offense finished 30th. Though Ryan acknowledged injuries severely limited their offense, he said: "At the end of the day, I wanted to move this team in a different direction offensively."
That means the Jets -- a team without a general manager that has starting quarterback issues -- will have a third offensive coordinator in as many seasons. Ryan also confirmed defensive coordinator Mike Pettine won't return in 2013, either.
Pettine's replacement will be easy to find, however. Secondary coach Dennis Thurman, who worked with Ryan and Pettine in Baltimore, is expected to inherit the defense despite the availability of Rob Ryan, Rex's twin brother, who was let go by the Cowboys Tuesday night. Thurman has yet to sign a contract, but Ryan heavily intimated his new defensive coordinator is in-house.
"The ink's not dry so I'm not announcing him today," Ryan said. "But I have a feeling, internally, we're going to run the New York Jets defense. Period."
Finding a new offensive coordinator will take more time. Recently fired Chargers coach Norv Turner has long been rumored as Ryan's preference, but reports out of San Diego are that Turner isn't interested.
Regardless of who he tabs for the position, Ryan laid out his criteria: someone who shares his vision for a "physical, aggressive, attack-style" team.
"I want somebody with that same type of belief that I have," he said. "That same passion, that same energy and that same attack-mentality, unpredictability on offense that I think I would have as a defensive guy. As a head coach, this is what I want."
Ryan admitted his insistence on a ground-and-pound-heavy offense held back the Jets -- who haven't finished in the top 10 on offense since 1998. Last January, the team parted ways with Brian Schottenheimer and later hired Sparano.
"I'm not saying that Tony didn't do a good job, cause he's a tremendous coach," Ryan said. "But I think where I've come up short in my opinion, for four years -- I don't think I've done as good of a job of implementing who I am throughout this team . . . I just have failed in that area."
As for Pettine, Ryan believes his former defensive coordinator will have "several opportunities" to prove himself elsewhere. A source confirmed Monday that Pettine had received permission to interview with the Buffalo Bills, and according to Ryan, that meeting took place Tuesday.
"I'm hoping he doesn't take that job. I hope he goes somewhere else," Ryan said of having to face the AFC East foe twice a season. "He's a tremendous coach.
" . . . Mike thinks it's best to go to a different team as a defensive coordinator. And I wish him all the best unless he goes to Buffalo. But I love Mike and I respect him."
In Pettine's previous three seasons, the Jets' defense finished first, third and fifth overall. This season, the unit was 25th overall, second in passing defense and 26th against the run.
Last month, a source confirmed Pettine turned down a contract extension earlier in the season. Though he declined to comment on those reports a few weeks ago, Pettine told a Bucks County (Pa.) newspaper that he needed to prove his defense could stand on its own.
"It's no different than a player having the ability to go to the open market to see what other options are out there," said Pettine, who grew up in the Philadelphia area. "I just felt it was time to go ahead and do it."
Ryan confirmed assistant special teams coach Ben Kotwica will replace Mike Westhoff, who plans to retire.