FanPost

Carrots & Sticks, Pace & Depth

I'm really starting to love the addition of Tony Sparano. Not only because he's obviously a good coach, but I think his presence has allowed Rex to really be the coach that he wants to be. It was painfully obvious that Schotty wasn't a Rex guy from the beginning. Not only was he a holdover from the prior regime, he's just the antithesis of Rex in almost every way. Rex has a philosophy of physicality. Schotty has more of a cerebral approach. Rex has an attack mentality. Schotty takes more of a reactive approach. Rex tailors his system to the talents of his players (see Revis). Schotty is completely system-oriented, and to my knowledge has never taken advantage of some of the unique talents he's had at his disposal. But Tony is of the same ilk as Rex. Schotty seemed to be a slave to quotas, seeming to strive for balance for the sake of balance and often disregarding what is working in the process. Us Jets fans know all to well that Tony will run whats working down your throat until you show you can stop it. Rex is that way too. If he figures out your protection scheme, he will blitz it until your QB bleeds. Rex can trust that if Shonn Greene rips off three 7 yard runs in row against the Eagles, that Tony won't abandon it for the sake of balance. I think Tony will allow Rex to be a better coach because he won't have to have a philosophical tug of war with his OC on a weekly basis. He knows that he and Tony share the same core beliefs and he can fully trust Tony to organize and implement those beliefs on the field. His team can finally become what he envisions it to be. And we're seeing Rex being Rex a little more already.

Rex has always preached that he believes that competition is healthy for his football team. He's said these things from day one. But this is the first time during his tenure so far that he has really incorporated that approach with gusto. There seems to be fierce competition everywhere. If a guy strings together some good practices and makes some plays, then some poor starter's job becomes up for grabs. And I love it. Bench guys start to fight for reps and prove their worth, starters are fighting to keep starting. Everybody is edgy. Every practice rep begins to count. Starters say, "hey, if I mess this up it could be my job, my contract my livelihood." Bench guys say, "hey, if I win this rep I could catch on with the ones and maybe get in position for a contract." Practice all of the sudden gets a little lively, a little chippy, and everybodies' level of play rises. Everybody that performs tastes the carrot. Everybody that doesn't feels the stick. This builds depth from within.

Perhaps Sparano's best contribution has been his pace. Even if he proves to be a terrible play-caller, his idea to pick up the pace will pay huge dividends. It creates an attack mentality, something that this offense desperately needs. It increases reps and opportunity to succeed/fail, which builds depth and allows guys to taste the carrot that might not otherwise. It forces guys to be more mentally prepared. And this all benefits the defense as well as the offense because these guys have to line up and play too. Increasing the pace was a subtle, yet brilliant move.

Carrots and sticks and pace and depth all make for a better, more aggressive football team. I'm also getting the sense that the best players will play regardless of positional suppositions. If Schilens and Hill are outperforming Kerley, then Kerly's butt will feel the wood. Maybe they'll try Holmes in the slot. Or maybe they'll stick Hill in the slot and force teams to go nickel and use Hill's blocking prowess against DBs on the edge in the run game. You could also motion Hill from the weakside slot over to the strong side and use him to blow off the top of the coverage and open up all kinds of things underneath for Keller and Schilens and Holmes. Eff positional conventions. Use your personnel to create mismatches whenever and where ever possible.
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