After spending years in the same exact offensive system run at a frustratingly slow pace these Jets are excited to pick up the tempo and find a rhythm and an identity as an offensive unit. With ex-offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer the Jets ran a slow paced offense based around meaningless pre-snap movement that did little to confuse defenses, but managed to confuse the offense plenty.
How many times over the past few seasons did you see Sanchez finally get into a rhythm moving the ball down the field and into field-goal range only to see Schottenheimer call a Wildcat play or two straight obvious runs into the teeth of the defense putting them at third-and-long and wasting a perfectly good drive? How many times did Shonn Greene and company tear off runs of four yards a clip in close games only to have Sanchez inexplicably drop back 40 plus times (think Giants game last season)?
How often did you see Sanchez have success when throwing on the move? But instead of more rollouts and bootlegs, Schottenheimer insisted on forcing Sanchez to stand in and pass from a constantly collapsing pocket.
Remember all those fourth quarter comebacks Sanchez had in his first two seasons?
They happened because, with time running out, the offense was forced to pick up the pace, get away from pre-snap movement and Sanchez could just react instead of having time to overthink. Which is exactly why everyone was clamoring to see more of a hurry-up/no-huddle offense. It never came and it’s no coincidence that Schottenheimer will never return.
There had been rumblings of dissatisfaction with Schottenheimer’s offense for years, fans were always critical of his play-calling, but Jets fans typically have been that way with their coordinators, just ask Mike Heimerdinger or Paul Hackett. But last year it boiled over when ex-Jet David Clowney was predicting plays on Twitter before they happened and Eric Mangini was confirming just how predictable the Jets offense had become. Then came the revolting of the receivers and implosion of the offensive line and the entire offense simply collapsed. But all that’s in the past and everyone around this team is excited to move on and to do so at a faster pace.
“I’m really pleased with the type of tempo our guys are getting on that practice field. I think that they’re starting to grasp the system.” Rex Ryan said, “They have kind of the nuts and bolts of it, but now you see improvement each day on things that we’re getting better at. I like the way we’re running our routes, I think we’re crisp in the way we’re running routes.”
Sanchez will, without a doubt, be the biggest beneficiary of this new offense under Tony Sparano. When Sparano was first hired he talked about breaking Sanchez down to the basics and starting over, but also about building the offensive game plan around what he does best. Sparano noticed Sanchez played better when the team would play at a higher tempo and push the pace and Sanchez is more than happy to welcome the change of tempo.
“Sure. I think we’re moving at a pretty good pace. I think the energy is high. That’s really important. I know Coach (Tony) Sparano preaches that.” Sanchez said, “As far as learning the offense, it takes time, but guys are really studying on their own and really taking to the details of this offense. It’s been a great experience so far and we just have to keep pushing each other.”
“He’s great. He pushes you hard. A lot of times, a lot of the coaching is rhetorical.” Sanchez said, “A lot of the questions are rhetorical. He might be phrasing it as a question, but he doesn’t really want a response, so you try to learn that as you go. He wants it right. He wants it perfect and he wants it efficient, so you learn that quickly.”
Patrick Turner spent sometime in Miami with Sparano so he has a little better understanding of what Sparano is all about than his teammates do and he thinks his teammates are not only doing a great job of learning the offense, but they have an excitement about running a simplified offense that’s built around the talent on the team.
“Yeah I do have a little familiar past past with him and I feel like guys are really picking it up.” Turner said, “In practice we’ve done a lot of good things and guys are getting better, making plays on the ball, running the ball well. Really fully understanding, not just where they are, but where everybody else is with it being less complicated.”
With a faster tempo the Jets hope the offense can be a more effective unit that is capable of winning games without the defense having to score the points as well as shutting out their opponents. Push the tempo, maintain possession, score points and wear out the opposing defense. It’s a simple strategy, but it’s an effective strategy and it all starts in practice.
“I’m excited about how far we’ve come. All the formations changed; everything, the motions, the tempo, the verbiage and all that kind of stuff. Are we there yet? No, but we are way ahead. We’ve made strides. I like it.” Ryan said, “I like the fact that our guys say that ‘I have to come back in shape in the summer because I have to work at this kind of speed.’ This is what we expect every day. We want to be a great fourth quarter team. To do that, you have to be in shape. I think the way the offense practices is going to prepare the defense as well. Hopefully that will help us in those fourth quarter games.”
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