For those that are always writing that Joe should shut up...
Joe Namath dislikes Tony Sparano hire
Updated: January 13, 2012, 11:46 AM ET
Tony Sparano has been on the job for only two days, but he got his first taste of New York criticism -- and it came from the New York Jets' most famous fan/detractor, Joe Namath.
The legendary Jet made his feelings abundantly clear: He didn't like the hiring of Sparano, the former Miami Dolphins coach, as offensive coordinator.
"I'm stumped. I am stumped," Namath said Thursday on his weekly spot on "The Michael Kay Show" on 1050 ESPN New York. "Aye, aye, aye, aye. Let's ask the world: Do you like the choice of Tony Sparano as offensive coordinator?"
"I've watched Tony work down here with the Dolphins and I thought he carried himself very well through all the adversity and all, but other than having called some plays with the Dallas Cowboys, I don't know what his credentials are for an offensive coordinator," said Namath, who lives in South Florida.
Namath suggested that Sparano was hired simply because he's a Bill Parcells disciple, as is Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
"This is the football fraternity, the coaching fraternity, the GMs, with their friends and all," Namath said. "That's basically what I think about Tony getting that job. But credentials as an offensive coordinator? I don't see it.
I hope he's a great one, but I don't see it."
Namath made the comments on the 43-year anniversary of the Jets' historic win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, which cemented his legend because of his famous guarantee.
Technically, Namath is correct, Sparano never has held the title of offensive coordinator, but he called plays for the Cowboys in 2006 -- under Parcells. That year, the Cowboys finished fourth in scoring and fifth in total offense.
From Dallas, Sparano went to Miami, where he was heavily involved in the offense but didn't call plays. In nearly four seasons, the Dolphins never finished better than 15th in scoring and 12th in total offense.
Sparano was hired Thursday to replace Brian Schottenheimer, a change that took about a New York minute. Namath defended Schottenheimer, calling him "the fall guy" for the Jets' disappointing 8-8 season. Namath said the offense was undermined by poor execution, not bad coaching.
"He's not a bad offensive coordinator by any stretch," Namath said. "Did anyone comment on the failure of (defensive coordinator) Mike Pettine after having his defense really go backward this year as opposed to the last two years?"
Namath may not be done with Schottenheimer, who will interview Friday for the coordinator job at Alabama, Namath's alma mater. Schottenheimer is thought to be the frontrunner for the job on Nick Saban's staff.
Even if the Jets are all but certain to hire a passing-game coordinator to complement him and develop Mark Sanchez — Todd Haley, the former Chiefs head coach, has emerged as a candidate — it will be incumbent upon Sparano to foster cohesion among a fractured unit.
“We’re definitely like-minded people,” said Ryan, and it was easy to imagine him smiling on the other end of the telephone line. Sparano’s approach emphasizes power running and protecting the quarterback — virtues that Ryan holds dear, and two of the Jets’ primary shortcomings during a season that ended in on-field disappointment and off-the-field distress.
“You have to form an identity,” Sparano said in a conference call, “and I want to have an identity here offensively.”
Sanchez has not publicly addressed his detractors, but Ryan and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum defended him on Friday, saying they had no reservations about his ability.
“He has all the attributes and traits we want,” Tannenbaum said.
His plan to revive the Jets’ offense could leave an unambiguous imprint on Sanchez, who buckled under pressure and a mediocre rushing attack. In theory, their running game would improve, making the Jets less reliant on Sanchez, a strategy that ushered them to two A.F.C. championship game appearances.
Sparano’s job is to refine those attributes and traits to help Sanchez become a more effective quarterback. Coaching against the Jets, Sparano said he formed a positive opinion of Sanchez, whose arm and athleticism he praised. He has yet to review much tape, but Sparano intends to apply to Sanchez the same approach that he developed while working in Dallas with Tony Romo and in Miami with Chad Henne.
“Get them back to Square 1 and break them back from a fundamental standpoint,” Sparano said.
Sparano was talking about more than Sanchez’s mechanics, which seemed affected by the neck stinger he dealt with over the final six weeks of the season. Sparano intends to go over with Sanchez all 26 of his turnovers. As he seeks to improve Sanchez’s clock management and ball security, Sparano wants to understand his thought process during those situations and then set about correcting his mistakes.
Ryan has already begun his own self-evaluation. He will continue to encourage his players to express themselves, but not behind the cloak of anonymity. “That’s not being a Jet, so that’s going to change without question,” Ryan said.
He vowed to spend more time in position meetings and in the locker room, trying to regain the feel that he lacked last season. For Ryan, trying to restore harmony to a locker room loaded with fissures will be the most challenging task of his coaching career.
Dealing with the locker room issues could be easier for Sparano, who said he had no preconceived notions of the personalities he would encounter. Sparano characterized his personality as “no-nonsense,” and he is a disciplinarian in the mold of his mentor, Bill Parcells.
“This is a show-me business, a show-me game,” Sparano said. “Once these players get here, it’ll be a blank piece of paper as far as I’m concerned.”
Sparano’s experience dealing with a mercurial receiver in Miami, Brandon Marshall, should help him with Santonio Holmes, who was benched after a skirmish in the Jets’ huddle on Jan. 1 and whose relationship with Schottenheimer was fractured.
The Jets publicly professed that Schottenheimer would return unless he was hired as the Jaguars’ head coach. But in multiple conversations after the season ended, Schottenheimer expressed a desire for what Tannenbaum characterized as a “fresh start.”
“It was a mutual decision,” Tannenbaum said.
As Schottenheimer, who interviewed Friday at the University of Alabama, awaited a resolution from Jacksonville (he did not get the job), the Jets interviewed two potential replacements — the former offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who left for the Cowboys, and Sparano.
“When we met with Tony, I was like, ‘Wow,’ ” Ryan said. “I was blown away.”
the old drunk has been saying the same tripe since 2009 and has finally been right.... like a blind squirrel
I remember him as the TV color commentator in the preseason of 1995 and 1996 saying that he thought Rich Kotite was doing a great job and that if the Jets stuck with him, he would restore the team to their glory days
joe namath has been very supportive of this team going back years. he too like most fans here have done the same thing. sit back and see what happens when it all failed he badgered them like the rest of us. dont kid yourself on namath the guy is still the man the myth the legend of the ny jets.