Transcript of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano's afternoon news conference following the Jets' Wednesday morning training camp practice at SUNY Cortland:
On what stage the offense is at…
Today was practice number 10. In the old days at this time, it would be practice number about 18. We’re in practice number 10. We’ve made good progress, really good progress along the way. We’ve gotten an awful lot done. We’ve got a long way to go here but we’ve still got some time. These guys are competing at a pretty high level right now out there. There has been some really good give-and-take in different periods throughout the last four or five days. So I see us getting better every day at something out there and that’s a compliment to our players.
On his plan for the playing time on offense against Cincinnati…
Well, obviously my plan is Rex [Ryan]'s plan. We’ve discussed it a little bit and we’re actually there right now kind of hacking some of that around between injuries and some guys that way. I would say that they would probably play a quarter, maybe somewhere in that range, or a play count. If we felt like we did some good things here and we got 12 to 15 plays in, then we'll probably see where we are at that point.
On what he’s looking to see out of the starting offensive line Friday…
Obviously, I want to see execution within our system right now. I see us getting better each and every day out there. We have not had the parts together completely with obviously Brandon [Moore] missing a couple of days there, and then Nick [Mangold] missing a few days, and now Wayne [Hunter]'s been down. When you’re in pads, these opportunities are valuable because pretty soon they’re going to run out and you’re going to be down to 14 padded practices for the season, and trust me, nobody is getting better with 14 padded practices for the season at that point. The work that you do now has to carry over later. So we need to get them together, playing together more frequently, and I’m looking forward to that here this weekend for a few plays but more importantly just on the practice field as we get ourselves going.
On if any Wildcat will be used in the Cincinnati game…
Yeah, we’ll see. There’s always a chance.
On if he’s curious about the communication between coaches and players during the game…
Yes, I’m interested to see it. One of the things I learned as a head coach is when you’re watching a bunch of personalities out there, you’re watching 80 or 90 guys and your coaches. And quite honestly, whether they’re offense or defense, from my end, I’m just curious to watch the whole interaction, in other words, and see if all of a sudden the players that I’ve seen in practice show up in the game or they turn into something different. Sometimes that happens and I want to know that. I need to know that right away, so we’ll pay close attention to that in the game and our players know that. I’ve talked to them about it but we have to do it.
On the challenge and benefit of the offense facing a good defense at practice and if he’s familiar with that situation since Miami had a talented defense during his tenure…
Yes, it’s similar in that sense. Installation-wise, these guys have been together for four years. While I was in the other place, we had to change coordinators. Mike Nolan had come in for me. We didn’t have that kind of continuity at all. This group is much further ahead install-wise and one of the things that I felt was important when I came here was that they did not hold back their install. In other words, whether it is OTAs or training camp right now, I just wanted it all, just throw it all at us and let us catch up with the pace there. I think it’s been really good.
Today you watched a third-down period out there and there were a lot of chunk plays out there between third-down and two-minute that were out there today. Guys did a good job out there of blocking stuff up and getting rid of the ball. There were a lot of people coming at us so we made really good progress that way. I like playing against this group because if we can block this group out here and understand what we’re seeing, I think the game will slow down a little for us.
On what he can learn from seeing the offense in a game…
We see it out here in practice every day. The good news is, we've had some of those kind of periods. We've had goal-line periods where we were going good and we have had scrimmages where it went good. We've gotten a chance to see them play at a high level and compete at a high level.
But obviously when you are playing against somebody else and getting ready for a game, the approach to the game is one of the things that you really want to see from this group of players. I've never been in the locker room with them so I want to see the approach with our starters and I just want to see these guys play within our system and see how it goes. Depending on the number of plays that we play out there, obviously you are hoping good things come out of this and I am expecting good things to come out of it. We will see what happens when we get out there.
On why he thought
Well, first of all, this guy was really a special player for me. His leadership ability and all of the intangibles that he has I think are critical to a football team and he is the type of guy, Yeremiah, that can stand out in a quiet way. I just said to those guys, “Look, there are a lot of players that I really liked, obviously loved, but this guy is one of them and he is at the top of the list and you need to take a look at this kid for these reasons.”
I think the reason that I thought he would fit here was because of the style of defense that we play. Yeremiah is an aggressive player. He is a heck of a pressure player and knowing what we were doing in the back end, I just thought that was a great fit. Of course, getting the chance to work with Dennis [Thurman] back there and those guys, there are some similarities between Dennis and my secondary guy, Todd Bowles. Those guys are actually good friends and I think that was a good fit for Yeremiah and that was important.
On if he can envision Tebow playing half of the game on Friday…
I don’t know. I learned a long time ago that these preseason games don’t go according to script all of the time, so for me to tell you that yes, this guy is going to play this much and that guy is going to play that much, that would be a mistake because then the next time I came in front of you, you would say, “Coach Sparano said this and he didn’t do that.” It's not my first rodeo [smiling]. I would say the improvements that he made since the start of this, you're not going to see them necessarily but I see them quite a bit in his identification of fronts, his identification of coverages, going through progressions. He did that today out there, went through progressions and made a couple of good throws out there.
I think the ball every day is coming off of his hand a lot better. He is getting some of the quick game stuff out faster, which is something they had not done a whole lot with him in the past. I see improvements from the guy every day. I think Matt Cavanaugh has done a good job with him that way and every day he continues to push the envelope that way and our defense helps us do that because we don’t sit here and script plays to have success against our defense. We try to challenge our rules.
I think that is important. I want the players to understand that the rules take care of a lot of this and then we worry about game-planning down the road when we get to Buffalo. They are starting to figure that out and in order to do that, the quarterbacks have to get us into the right scheme on every snap and Tim has been able to do that better and better every single day.
On if it is hard to evaluate Tebow because he’s playing with the second team…
No, I don’t think so. I think we can see enough of what Tim’s done throwing the football and doing those types of things right now. I think that when you get out there and you put him in the game, I’m pretty sure I know what’s going to happen. So, we’ll see, but I’m pretty sure I know. I stood on the other sideline and watched it. Wasn’t a good feeling.
On if it will be fun to see Tebow out of the red jersey…
I mean, all that stuff is fun, but you don’t want the guy to get hit. So yeah, sure, again, I’ve had that glimpse up close and in person. I believe the score was 15-0, with not much time left in the game. And I think the people here have had that glimpse. So we’ve seen it — that’s a lot of the guys here.
On the extent the new installations will be seen in the preseason…
It’s going to be vanilla. We didn’t plan at all here. We didn’t sit in that office and game-plan at all. We’re talking about personnel right now. We’re going to go out there and we’re just going to line up and let the guys play and get a chance to evaluate young players. I think that’s what the preseason’s all about. It’s trying to get your first group and then the fringe guys enough work over a four-game period that you feel like they’re game-ready, and then evaluate some young players.
I think that part of the philosophy here is to develop those young players. You know they’ve done a nice job with some of these young guys here and we’ve got to continue to do that in the early games because eventually you get to a point where you have to get your team ready to play. And now you’re looking at three or four guys instead of 30 or so guys.
Yes, and getting them out there in practice right now and seeing all the reps that they’re getting is a benefit too, now. There are pros and cons to that. I mean they’re out there and they’re taking a ton of plays. The good news is they’re getting a bunch and the bad news is they’re getting a bunch because that wears on them a little bit, too.
As I tell them all the time, "This is an opportunity for you and somewhere down the road the reps start to trickle down, they don’t get better. And you should make the most of that opportunity right now." So seeing some of them and whether or not they’ll step up and how they’ll step up will be interesting to watch. But we’d obviously like to have some of these other guys back and out there, too.
Listen, the last three years that I've coached, I had a bunch of quarterbacks play. I’ve said this before, they’ve been very fortunate here that Mark Sanchez has been healthy and he’s gotten through the number of games he’s gotten through. I’ve been on the other side of that, where you’re playing three, almost four quarterbacks. I believe one year it was four quarterbacks. So to get him the work right now at the quarterback position at this point so that we can continue the growth with him there, that way it doesn’t matter what group he’s playing in, just matters that he’s under the center and that he’s getting that work.
Today out there, Mark got really hot in a period there, and I took him out of the period and we put Tim in for a couple plays there in that period and got him a couple extra reps. So there’s a point in time where we can start to do that a little bit when you start to see Mark’s play count get high.
Well, I think that Rex, he said that, but Matt has been out there in that group, they’ve been rotating in and out, but Matt’s been out there in that group. And at this point in time, obviously, Rex is the boss and I’m going to be behind that statement. So that’s where we are. Matt is probably ahead of Vlad [