Author: Bruce Lamb
As the Miami Dolphins continue their head coaching search, and new development in the AFC East has me extremely baffled. According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Brian Schottenheimer and the New York Jets have parted ways, and former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano is first in line to replace him as offensive coordinator. Should this move actually take place, it would be a HUGE slap in the face to Stephen Ross and Jeff Ireland.
In my opinion, Sparano was not treated right by the Dolphin front office. It all started with the Harbaugh scandal, where Stephen Ross was searching for his replacement before he even fired Sparano. Searching for a replacement before someone is actually fired is common practice in the business world, but that's not how the NFL works. Sparano had to feel a little angry at that move. Then the 0-7 start to the 2011 season took place, and Sparano was all but gone. His team rallied behind him by winning 4 of their next 5 games. Players showed public support for Ross to keep Sparano, and I honestly thought their play would save his job. Then Miami laid an egg against a hot Eagles team and Sparano was given his walking papers the Monday after.
I'm sure there are plenty of hard feelings between Sparano and the Dolphins front office, mainly coming from Sparano. He was embarrassed publically, and went into this season a lame duck coach despite his contract extension. Many questions have arised in regards to personnel moves made by Ireland over the past couple seasons. How much say did Sparano actually have on who was on the roster, and who the team should draft or pick up in free agency? Sparano was known for being a great offensive line coach. He stressed how important continuity was, how the line needs repetition after repetition to gain the cohesion necessary to be good. Yet despite this philosophy, the offensive line was schuffled more than a deck of cards at Caesar's Palace. It's almost as if Sparano was set up to fail the moment Parcells took his money and headed to the ESPN studios. Sparano was handpicked by Parcells, and when he left, so did Sparano's security blanket. It seemed like Ross never liked the idea of Sparano being his head coach, and the same can be said about Ireland. Sparano was hired before Ireland, and Sparano and Ireland were in Miami before Ross bought the team. It was only a matter of time before Sparano was shown the door.
We may never know the truth about what has taken place in Miami over the past 2 seasons, Sparano may talk, but I don't think he's the type of person to do that. What I do know about him is he's a good coach, and his players love playing for him. His teams were well prepared most of the time, predicating his game plans on execution more than taking risks. He was very conservative, relying on a strong defense and solid running game to win games. This is the way the Jets made it to two consecutive AFC Championship games, they got away from that this season and failed to make the playoffs for the first time under head coach Rex Ryan.
If Sparano is looking for a little revenge, going to the Jets is one helluva start. They are the Dolphins most hated rival. You just don't go from the Dolphins to the Jets (unless your name is Jason Taylor) and still be liked by the Miami fan base, you just don't. Sparano will have a chance to get back at the Dolphin front office at least twice a season. He will have an understanding of the Miami players, and should the current defensive coordinator Mike Nolan stay in place next season he will know him well too. Sparano has experience calling plays, he did it in Dallas with Parcells. Sean Peyton wanted him as the offensive coordinator in New Orleans too. This move by the Jets is going to turn out 1 of 2 ways, it's either going to be a success, or it's going to turn into 3 yards and a cloud of dust. For Sparano, this move smells of revenge.