Sparano's Tuesday News Conference

Posted Jun 13, 2012

Transcript of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano's news conference after Tuesday's midday minicamp practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:

On if he is happy with the offseason progress…

Yes, I have been very happy with the progress made. I think one of the things you take into consideration when you’re putting in a new system, and everybody’s challenged with it, so it’s the same hand that everybody’s dealt. With the new rules and the new CBA and the way things go and the different phases, you really don’t have your hands on the players for a long period here.

What I’ve been most impressed with is their attention to detail and the way that they’ve worked at learning the offense right now and the amount of time that they’ve put in on their own doing some of this stuff right now. So it’s been really good for us and I think we’re a lot further ahead than I thought we’d be.

On hamstring issues with some of the wide receivers…

It just opens up a different avenue for us a little bit because I just said this to the coaches a couple days ago, I said one of the things that’s really happened here is you get to look at a lot of young players. This time right now is about two different deals here. One, we’re trying to put a new offense in and make our football team better, OK. But two, we are trying to evaluate young players. To see a kid like Dexter Jackson running around out there and take 180 reps so far, those are valuable snaps. Eron Riley, these type of people. It gives us a chance to see a lot of good young players.

The other thing it’s done for us is allowed us to see our tight ends to play in several different positions. That is very valuable right now for us, our tight ends bouncing around playing in several different positions. We had a third-down day the other day, I think it was the last time maybe you were out there, and you know the way I heard it, it was doom and gloom. But at the end of that whole thing we converted 35 percent of the third downs. There were 38 third downs in that practice. We converted 35 percent. And sometimes you’re playing with '22' and '13' personnel out there in those situations. That’s valuable for us, to see a Josh Baker running an 18-yard route or Jeff Cumberland having to play outside instead of inside. That’s helped them learn this package I think a lot better, so I guess if there’s a silver lining that would be it.

How much head coach Rex Ryan has learned the new offensive system…

He’s been great. One of the things early on in the process when we started to build a package that Rex and I were doing on a daily basis is he would come in with me and it would just be he and I for a short period of time out there every day. It gave me a chance to kind of catch him up to speed with what it was that we were doing that day, whatever it was that we talked about, whatever part of the playbook that went in and that we discussed that day. It gave me a chance to keep him up to date with that. And that was good time for me, too, because I was able to pick his brain a little bit defensively.

So we’re bouncing things around and the next thing you know it's two guys talking football in there and what started out as an hour is now an hour and 45 minutes later when we finish and we come up with some pretty good stuff. So that’s been helpful for us. He’s been in, comes into some of the offensive meetings and he’ll sit in on some of the offensive meetings. So he’s hearing it, he’s hearing the installs, he’s hearing me with the group from that standpoint and all that. And I think that’s good. The more times he can hear it, when he hears the play out there it’s not something that doesn’t hit him well.

Today we had a hurry-up situation where we call out a specific term and that term equals the play, the formation, everything in a hurry-up. And it was interesting afterwards because Rex was able to tell the team, hey, in this situation this is what we expect. So that was kind of good to get him to talk our language a little bit.

On if he met with Ryan about the offense after he was hired or before offseason workouts…

No, this was when I got hired and we started putting a staff together. Once we got the staff together, that’s when the notebook process started. We started building a new notebook and going through all of that step by step. That part of it there was when he would come in. That was good. It was good to say hey, today we did this section and this is what we worked on. It kept him up to speed with it and we could go from there.

On getting Santonio Holmes up to speed when he has missed time…

Something that the media wasn’t able to see is when we were in Phase 2 when we were able to spend a little bit of time with those guys in the classroom and on the field. Santonio has done an outstanding job from a mental standpoint right now in his preparation, understanding what his role will be, understanding multiple positions. I have absolutely zero concern about that right now, I really do. We don’t have to play a game today. We have to play a game down the road. That’s the most important thing, but he’s learning a new system.

The one thing with Santonio that is interesting is the other day, in practice No. 9, when we were out there the guys were joking with him a little bit because we were watching the tape and he was standing right by my side. He was not in there on this particular rep, but he was drawing routes to me saying he has this, he has that and he has this, he has this. That’s his way of letting me know that he knows where everybody is. That’s important right now for Santonio and where we want to head with him.

On Holmes giving tips to younger players…

Yeah, he does a lot of that. He has been really good with the young players, he really has. He has been really good in the room. He and Sanjay [Lal] have a really good relationship and communicate well. Santonio and I communicate really well. I think that’s the key, just being able to communicate with these guys and getting them to understand what we’re looking for right now.

I think the mental rep at this particular time is as important as the physical rep. You don’t get a lot of reps out there so even the guys who are standing there not taking the plays, if it’s a 15-play period, you may only get five plays in that period. Well, during those other 10 plays, I hope you’re putting yourself in a few of those positions.

On if there was a miscommunication between Holmes and the coaching staff about practice reps…

No, I don’t think so. I don’t think there was any kind of miscommunication or any of those things. I don’t get into all of that he-said-she-said stuff, any of those types of things. The one thing that you will know and that my players know is that I know exactly how many reps every player has taken right now, period. I know exactly the number of plays. I know what was scheduled, what wasn’t scheduled and any of those things. I don’t get into the rest of that, but I know Nick Mangold had 163 snaps going into today.

On how he is working with Tim Tebow

We are just continuing to work on Tim Tebow being a quarterback right now. That’s what we’re doing.

On if they are running Wildcat plays…

I thought you guys were going to write about that thing the other day where he missed a handoff in practice and took off to the left. I thought that was going to be in the paper as a Wildcat thing. It really wasn’t a Wildcat thing. It was just a bad play, a really bad play [laughs], that’s all that was.

On Ryan saying Tebow took some Wildcat snaps in the closed practices…

I’m not going to get into all of that. There’s going to be a time and a place for some of that stuff down the road. Tim will have a role and we’ll see where we go with it.

On the challenges he faces getting Tebow involved with the Wildcat…

It is not really a challenge that way, I don’t think, only because I have been down that road before and I don’t want to get into all that, but I have been down that road before and it was a little different road. I think you are just trying to find playmakers, anybody, trying to get the best people you can out there on the field and get the ball into their hands, so that was a little different scenario than obviously what we are dealing with here right now.

It is not the first time I have had to do anything like that or any of those things. I think one of the mistakes you make as coaches is you go in and you close your mind to any and all ideas. This is what we are, this is what we are going to do. That’s it, period. I think that can be a mistake down the road and bottom line is I am charged with finding yards and points.

On if it concerns him that Tebow is working on special teams…

Those are not my decisions. But if it is going to help the New York Jets and help our football team win games, then I am all for it.

On his observations of Mark Sanchez so far…

One of the things is just that this guy has tremendous passion to learn and to get better. He’s not afraid of criticism, OK? I think that is important at that position. I can be critical with Mark, because you have to do it. It’s the nature of the business. In other words, sometimes you have to say, "This isn’t where the ball goes. We don’t want it here. We need you to do it this way." At the same time you have to be able to tell him that is exactly right.

He threw a ball today to Dustin Keller down there in the red area that is exactly the way we coached it, exactly the way we talked about it, but not every quarterback can throw it that way. I have been really impressed with what he has done and how hard he has worked on his own to learn this system and the amount of time he has put in that way, but also physically, the improvements he has made. His lower-body strength is completely different than it was before. His physical strength is completely different right now, but his lower-body strength is great.

To some of you, you say, “Lower-body strength? He's a quarterback. Doesn’t he need arm strength?” At the quarterback position, and a lot of quarterback gurus will tell you that, it is from here down where you get your power, that’s where you get your torque, that’s where you get all the things you need to throw the ball with the velocity that you want to throw it with. Right now I have seen him make in practice just about every throw that I need to see him make.

On his phrase "Know and know you know"…

The bottom line is you are teaching them to understand and to pay attention to the details and that if you do not know your assignment, and I have said this from day one, "Look, if you don’t know your assignment, I can’t put you out there on the field," and I told them that. I said, "If you don’t know it then you are not going to be out there." So the term I have come up with is, "Know and know you know." Be sure you know it and when you think you know it, go back over it again so you know it.

I think it just allows you to play faster, when you are sure about those things. There are details, a lot of things that go on in those few split-seconds when the ball is hiked and all of a sudden the front goes from one front to another front or the coverage rotates or somebody walks one way or walks the other way, techniques shift. There are a million things that go on out there before the ball is hiked and it’s interesting.

I did a thing with a couple of players in the room not too long ago where I brought a few players at different positions up and put them in front of the room and then I gave them a formation, gave them a play, told them to make the formation call, told them to make the play call, get out to the line of scrimmage, ID the Mike, see the coverage, make the check and get us going. That sounds easy, but it’s not really that easy. All of a sudden in their minds, they're figuring out, “Whoa, this is what these guys have to process sometimes. This is what goes on with the quarterback. So "know and know you know" holds true for every position and it has been something they have grabbed onto a little bit.

On Tebow’s improvements…

He is getting better and better every single day. Every day I see a ball come off of his hand that is better than it was yesterday or the last time that we practiced. He made a couple of good throws today down there in the red area, so I think he is getting better and better fundamentally. Matt Cavanaugh has done a really nice job with him that way from a fundamental standpoint. We really kind of went back to basics with the entire group of quarterbacks and all of those guys are getting better fundamentally. I saw Tim when he came out, and I mentioned this before, I had him in the Senior Bowl fresh out of college. Where he was then and where he is now are two totally different places fundamentally.

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