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 fit his vision.
“Last night, after thinking about it for a long time, I decided to make a change at the offensive coordinator spot by letting Tony Sparano go,” Ryan said, hours after news of Sparano’s made the rounds.
Sparano's one and only season with the Jets was a disappointing one, as the offense finished the season ranked 30th in the league.
“I appreciate the efforts that Tony did here. He did a lot of good things. And guys, when you look at it, from a personnel standpoint, this was not the team that we thought we were going to have throughout the season. Obviously, you look a little different when you have Santonio Holmes outside, Dustin Keller as your tight end, Stephen Hill as a developing guy. But unfortunately that never happened.”
Last January, the Jets parted ways with former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and shortly thereafter, hired Sparano.
“We are definitely like-minded people, liked-minded coaches and we believe in running the football and protecting the quarterback,” Ryan said then of Sparano, who was fired as head coach of the Dolphins. “I think, offensively, those are the two biggest things in my opinion, and I think Tony shares similar beliefs to that. He is a tough guy, an East coast guy. I think when we talk about when the weather is tough in this kind of area, New York and New Jersey, the east coast, you have to be able to run the football and if you can’t, I think you struggle to win games.”
But on Tuesday, Ryan admitted he has failed to inject his aggressive nature into every facet of his football team. Though the coach acknowledged injuries severely limited the Jets offense (case in point: the last time the Jets had all of their key weapons healthy was Week 1 vs. Buffalo), Ryan said: “At the end of the day, I wanted to move this team in a different direction offensively.
“And not saying that Tony didn’t do a good job, cause he’s a tremendous coach. 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 want a physical, aggressive, attack-style of football team. Whether it’s offense, defense and all that. Unpredictable in all three phases. That’s what I want.
“And I don’t think I’ve done a good enough job of getting that through to the entire football team. Certainly, I think it’s gotten through to defense…I don’t think it necessarily got through, from schematic things, for anything offensively. And I think that’s what I want.”
There’s been speculation Norv Turner, the Chargers’ recently-fired head coach, is the Jets’ first choice to replace Sparano. Ryan, of course, wouldn’t let on who he was leaning toward. Instead, he detailed the characteristics he wants in a new offensive coordinator.
“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.”