An offseason that may see the Jets lose more position coaches than the franchise may have anticipated rolled along this morning with the news that offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has been fired after one season. ESPN's Chris Mortensen was the first with the news, which was anticipated by most after a season in which every possible aspect of the team's offense regressed. Sparano, who was hired on Jan. 11, 2012 as the replacement for Brian Schottenheimer, was thought to be the man who could take quarterback Mark Sanchez to the next level and merge a more efficient passing game and read-option plays with the Jets' already established rushing attack.
Head coach Rex Ryan, convinced that Sparano could do all that based on his work with the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys, had to be bitterly disappointed in Sparano's inability to to any of that, especially by Sparano's inability to install any sort of Wildcat/option packages for quarterback Tim Tebow.
"When we sat down with Tony, I knew that he was the right person at the right time for our offense," Ryan said when Sparano was hired. "I've admired his work as a competitor in the division for the past three seasons. His teams were always physical, tough and hard-nosed."
As the Dolphins' first-year head coach in 2008, Sparano engineered one of the more impressive turnarounds in NFL history. The Dolphins won the AFC East with an 11-5 record just one season after going 1-15. Perhaps the primary aspect of that turnaround was Miami's success in the Wildcat offense, which was actually installed by offensive coordinator David Lee.
When Sparano took the concept to New York, he seemed unable to install it successfully for Tebow, who was acquired in a trade. In the more comprehensive view, Sparano did not create game plans that helped a Jets offense that finally had to come to terms with the limitations of quarterback Mark Sanchez, and the fact that many of the team's skill players were either injured or aging.
The Jets finished 30th in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics in overall offense, one season after finishing 21st under Schottenheimer. The passing game was particularly disastrous, especially in the Jets' 14-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 17, which knocked the Jets out of playoff contention. In that game, Sanchez threw four interceptions and seemed completely overmatched by a defense that was average in 2012. Sanchez finished with 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in what was his worst NFL season.
After that debacle, the Jets started playing round-robin with Sanchez, Tebow, and former third-stringer Greg McElroy, who generally looked like the best quarterback on the team.
The Jets had already fired quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, and will lose defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who has decided to move on. Pettine will interview with the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday.
According to multiple reports, Ryan's main choices to replace Sparano are former San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner, and ex-Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.
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