Tony Sparano’s coaching weakness became obvious when the Dolphins dismantled the Jets on Sunday. His complete inability to adapt to the unexpected was apparent when Miami added a wrinkle to its pressure package. The same lack of adaptability that led to his dismissal as the head coach of the Dolphins, left the Jets offense sputtering and unable to make the corrections needed to right the ship.
The Jets suffer from the same uncreative approach that has become passé in the NFL. Professional football games can no longer be dictated by power offense and brute force defense. The Miami Dolphins showed a corner blitz package for the first time this season, Tony Sparano and the Jets were unable to respond.
It was a brilliant move by the Dolphins to bring something completely different to the table. Jimmy Wilson and Nolan Carroll performed the blitzes to perfection and it was evident Mark Sanchez was unaware of the break down in protection. Sparano on the sideline going over reams of pictures with Sanchez trying to understand, made it easy to see why the Dolphins could not adjust last season with Sparano at the helm.
Football cannot be played in a vacuum, it is a series of adjustments made as the opposition shows his hand. This new perspective as the opponent playing against Sparano, confirmed his inability to adjust. It is what Ricky Williams meant when he said Sparano is a “micro-manager.” Taking a rigid approach to a game plan leads to failure when the plan does not work and there is no room for adjustment. Watching Sparano try to diagnose the Dolphins blitz left the impression there was nothing to fall back on if the original plan did not work.
The entire Jets staff was unprepared for the attacking Dolphins game plan. Mike Westhoff was stunned by an early on-sides kick and assumed Miami had played the one unexpected card they had in the deck, little did Westhoff know, the deck was loaded!
Tim Tebow was added as the personal protector to the punter because he enabled the Jets options like the fake they ran successfully against Miami in the last meeting. There was little consideration taken to the fact Tebow has never truly had to block anyone in his football career. Instead of worrying about what Tebow may do, Miami exploited his inexperience. It was genius coaching from the mind frame of aggression.
Leading 20-0 surely Miami would not try anything fancy against a kicker who had not missed a field goal this season. Again Westhoff, Ryan and Sparano failed to recognize Miami’s aggressive game plan, 20-0 was not enough. Following the game, Westhoff admitted it was the worst game he coached in his 40 years in the NFL. The blocked field goal added to the frustration that may have changed to momentum had the kick been successful.
The Jets had the misconception that talking a good game and making veiled threats to injure another team’s playmakers is enough to make opponents play timid. Ryan and his crew are like the bully gang in the schoolyard, most of what they do is talk. When the real fighting starts it's the heart of the dog that wins out over empty words. The great Gods of football seem to bounce the ball in the right direction for the underdog Dolphins, so maybe there is something to Reggie Bush's backhanded statement about karma, it comes around...
Ryan, Sparano and Westhoff have built a reputation of being tough guys, playing a hard hitting brand of football, but being smart is not part of the equation. Punch a team in the mouth, take out the rookie QB on the second drive and watch them crumble. Most times it will work, but not when a team, coming off a bye week has doubled the preparation all the way to the backup QB. Matt Moore never missed a beat.
Miami heard about the “hot sauce” and the “head hunters,” but it was all talk. A violent straight arm early by Reggie Bush showed which heads should be on a swivel. All the way through to Richey Incognito waving bye-bye to a bench that was wishing it was as empty as the stadium. The biggest game in a season nearly half over and the Jets were no-shows, their actions did not back their words.
Rex Ryan never told his players talk was cheap, Tony Sparano had no answers for the corner blitz and Mike Westhoff forgot Tim Tebow is a quarterback not a punt protector. The Dolphins clearly outplayed the Jets, but this was a coaching victory. Joe Philbin, Mike Sherman, Kevin Coyle and Darren Rizzi put together a flawless game plan and the players executed it to perfection.
No need for the Dolphins to talk about the win, Mike Westhoff said it best, “that's as bad as it’s been in my entire career.” Westhoff was speaking for the entire Jets coaching staff who know they were demoralized by a superior staff and a team that would not be denied.
Hello NFL, welcome the Miami Dolphins to the playoff hunt!