Tony Sparano On Tebow, Sanchez, Hunter And More…

New York Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano spoke to the media on Thursday.  Here are some noteworthy highlights:

On Tim Tebow’s role in the offense…

Well, I won’t give you the vision on what I think his role will be in the offense.  But I would just say that to the best of my knowledge, I believe that what Coach (Ryan) said is he can play anywhere from one to 20 snaps, somewhere like that.  And I would say what coach said is 100 percent correct. As far as how we’ll use Tim or what we’ll do with Tim that way, we’re going to keep that to us right now.

On Tebow’s usage impacting Mark Sanchez’s role…

No, I’m not concerned about that, no, I don’t think so.  I think with all the work that we’ll be doing between now and the time the season starts and all the steps, I think we have to remember that Mark, he’s been under center here for a lot of games, for the three years that he’s been here, and I think that between now and training camp and through training camp (with) all the snaps that Mark will get, I think we’ll be in good shape.

On running the wildcat with Tebow…

Well, if that’s the direction that we go, and I say if that’s the direction that we go, I think that the element with Ricky (Williams) and Ronnie (Brown), the reason that we had to do it in Miami at that time was those were really our two best players at that point, and part of the philosophy was to get the two best players on the field at the same time.  And in doing so, we created some match-up problems that way. I think the difference (with Williams and Brown) is there was very little element of pass involved in that, where obviously with Tim, that’s a different element.  So if we decide to go down that road, the element of being able to throw the football out of that brings a complete different dynamic into the picture here.

On what he meant by “if that’s the direction that we go”…

I mean that that’s going back to the first question which was asked, which was what exactly Tim’s role would be.  I said I wasn’t going to get into that.  Whether we run wildcat or a version of (wildcat), or something else, I’m not going to tie myself down to just one thing.

 

On using Tebow at other positions…

Yeah, sure, all those things are on the table. And I think that that’s the great thing about having a player that has the flexibility that Tim has.  Obviously our first goal here is to continue to work with Tim and to continue to have him mature as a quarterback.  That’s what we’re trying to do here. But with that being said, he comes with a different skill set, obviously, from college, and I think that that’s a good thing for us.  He has the ability to do a lot of different jobs, and at the game, that’s what you really want.  You need players that are going to be able to do a lot of jobs for you.

On Tebow as a passer…

I saw him right out of college, because I coached him in the Senior Bowl that year. In coaching Tim at the Senior Bowl that year and seeing where he is right now, of course we’ve had very limited time to see him, but this week we have been able to spend a little bit of time with the players with the new rules, that has been eye opening.  Then of course seeing him on all the tape last year, I thought fundamentally Tim has gotten much better.  You can see the amount of time he’s spent at it, and really this kid has put a lot of time in (during) the offseason from a fundamentals standpoint.  He’s completely different now than he was when he came out of college.

On the offense right now…

I’m honestly very excited about it.  You know, one of the things that I felt coming here is just that there were some outstanding parts here.  I think Coach Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum have done a great job in putting together some of the pieces here with our tight ends and even some of the young players at the tight end positions right now that we’re anxious to watch develop.  And then the receivers to see how (Jeremy) Kerley has come along, and obviously having Tone (Santonio Holmes) and his ability out there and now we add a player like a Stephen Hill to that group.  I was part of drafting Pat Turner in Miami, and to see how he’s developed. So a lot of these players have developed very well along the way here, and some of the linemen, obviously the veteran linemen, but some of the young players, too. So a lot of guys had a lot of hands in this, (and they) have done a great job.  I’m excited about the possibilities that we have.

On Sanchez last season…

Well, the funny thing is that when you watch it, and I know you can’t do this, okay, don’t get me wrong here, you can’t take turnovers out of the equation.  I mean, turnovers are turnovers, and yet in a lot of situations, how turnovers occur, they can come in a bunch of different ways.  And now having a chance to go through and watch the tape and really see the way some of the turnovers occurred, a lot of that falls obviously on the quarterback’s shoulders sometimes.  He’s the guy that everybody wants to look at. But we here in the film room really understand how some of those things come about every once in a while.  With that being said, if you take the turnovers out, this guy really played better last year.  His numbers were better last year than they had been the previous couple years.  You saw improvement in a few areas, which is what you really want to see. We forget, I think, that this guy is a young player who’s won a lot of football games here.  I’m excited about where he is.  The only thing I can tell you right now is that he has had a tremendous offseason and has really gotten himself in good shape and has come here and really worked hard this offseason physically and mentally here, as well, as of late, in learning what we’re doing.  I’ve been really impressed with him.

On Santonio Holmes…

Honestly, I think that Santonio really has special ability, and I’ve been on the other sideline.  There’s an interesting take when you’ve been on the other sideline and in the other room preparing for players like the Jets have here, like we have here right now. Having to figure out how you’re going to handle Dustin Keller. Having to figure out how you’re going to handle Santonio Holmes or the running game with Shonn Greene and that offensive line. I think this guy has really special ability.  He can catch it and run with it.  He makes the hard catches.  I’ve seen him make some really acrobatic catches.  You know, he works really hard at it.  The guy wants the football. The thing I’ve noticed about Tone right now in my time being around him is that this guy is a competitive guy.  He loves to compete.  And I like that with skill players.  I mean, I just love the fact that those guys love to compete.

On Stephen Hill’s transition being easier with using a running quarterback at times and how long it will take him to adjust to an NFL offense…

To answer the first part of your question, as far as playing with a running quarterback, any of those kinds of things, with Tim or Mark, any of our quarterbacks right now, they really handle it (the ball) well on the move.  That’s one of the things going back and looking at Mark, he throws the ball very well on the move.  Watching him and knowing Tim, it’s funny, obviously my receiver coach Sanjay Lal was in Oakland, and of course the guys Anthony Lynn and Mike Devlin and Matt Cavanaugh here, and myself and (Dave) DeGuglielmo and Tony (Sparano) Jr. here, we’re all in here, and we played Tim last year, all three (Jets, Miami and Oakland) of us, and all three of us at some point got hurt because he got outside the pocket and extended plays and made plays. So the moving quarterback with big receivers that can run back and get back to the football, doing those things, quarterbacks on the move, I think they find those big targets friendly, I guess, is a good word to say, when they’re on the move a little bit. That’s big, and then I think as far as the learning curve goes with Stephen, I think the biggest thing is going to be the amount of coverages that he sees and those type of things and how fast he can pick up our verbiage here because that will be different for him.  But the good news is we spent a good amount of time with this player and doing our homework in the draft process, and obviously through the combine and our scouts did a tremendous job looking at him and then we brought him in. I think he had mentioned that in his press conference.  He was in before on one of the 30 visits and we had also worked him out.  We had a good amount of time to spend with him, so we feel really comfortable there.

On Wayne Hunter…

Well, I mean, we obviously have a long time to go here before we get to opening day, but one of the reasons, and I think Rex might have mentioned this before, as well, when I was in Miami and Wayne was coming up (as a free agent), prior to the Jets re-signing him, we thought an awful lot about (signing) him.  We wanted to bring him down there at that time. I’ve had some history with him.  I know his college line coach really well, and I know what he has thought of Wayne, as well.  Wayne has been tremendous here right now with us, so we’re excited about him.  I’m excited about all those guys up front, I really am, and I think it’s a good group.  I think we’ve got some good players up there, and we have some good young players coming through, as well.

On working with Rex Ryan…

Honestly, it’s been tremendous.  I can’t thank Rex and Mike and Mr. Johnson (enough) for giving me this opportunity here.  But getting a chance to work with him every day now and be around him every day, it’s contagious.  There always was something there.  It’s just the Miami-Jet thing was one thing, but there was just always something there.  You see the way he coaches, and Rex coaches with a lot of passion, and he cares about his players.  This guy wants to win so bad, and you just want to be around people like that. For me, I wanted to be in an environment where winning was the priority and where there was a lot of passion and enthusiasm, and that’s exactly what I have here right now.  I love it, and again, he’s been great for me, and I just want to be able to return the favor.

On if he is concerned about managing the quarterback situation this season…

No, I’m really not concerned about that honestly.  I think from our standpoint here, we’re just excited to be able to add another good football player to our team.  That’s what this is all about.  At the end of the day, it’s about trying to find good football players.  Mark Sanchez is one hell of a player, and I am so excited about the opportunity to coach him and getting the chance to work with him, and Tim Tebow is a good football player, too.  I think when you put both of these guys in a room and they’re playing checkers, they’re going to compete at it and they’re going to go like heck to win. I think the more of those people you can get around your football team and in this environment, the better off your football team is going to be.  So I think that we helped our team tremendously.  I don’t think it’s a problem managing it, and the two of them right now along with Greg McElroy have done a great job, and Matt Cavanaugh has really done a good job with them.

On Shonn Greene…

I’ve been really impressed with Shonn.  First of all, from a mental standpoint, this guy is excellent, and he sees the field really well and has a really good understanding of what’s going on at that position.  Some people just think, what do you mean, Coach?  You just turn around and give him the ball.  But those guys have so many things to think about with protections and things that go on, different run keys and so on.  He’s handled that really well.  I know he’s working hard in the offseason here right now and doing a good job. I know he’s excited about what’s going on. We have a good group of young players there.  Joe McKnight I’m excited about, Bilal Powell, and of course John Conner there, having a fullback that will go in there and block you.  So this is an exciting group of guys to work with.

On the amount of input he had in the Tebow trade…

(Laughing) Well, obviously I was involved in the conversation, which I appreciate, with Mike and Rex.  We sat down and had a conversation about it, and that was really it.  At the end of the day, it’s a decision that Mike and Rex made, obviously, for the betterment of our football team.  I was completely on board with it.

On the confidence he’d have in McElroy if he had to play…

Well, that’s a really good question, because it’s hard to find (good quarterbacks). Obviously, I’ve gone through a couple different scenarios where I’ve been to my third quarterback, my fifth quarterback in some situations. Here they’ve been very fortunate that Mark has been healthy and has been able to play.  But having a player like Greg, this guy is brilliant.  I mean, he really is a smart, smart player, and I think that’s important when you have young players at the position, meaning you don’t have this ten year veteran that is the starter. So from a rep standpoint, particularly with the way that training camp is now with the one practice and the walkthrough and the limited number of OTAs and those type of things, your reps are cut back a little bit. It’s critical that whoever that quarterback is and however this thing turned out at the end, but whoever it may be is the third quarterback, and the question was about Greg, to have a player of his ability that can think the way this guy can think.  It really is, because you don’t know how many reps you’re going to be able to give those types of players, and from a mental standpoint, that was really something that I liked about him coming out of college.  You know, I had gone there and actually worked him out and (Mark) Ingram and some of those people there at the time.  I can remember giving him a test, and it was a joke. (laughter)  He’s that smart, and that’s really what you want out of a player at that position.


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