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Possibilities for Passing Game in Sparano's Offense


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#1 flgreen

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 08:15 AM

Jets see possibilities for passing game in Tony Sparano's new offense

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2012, 4:30 AM

Posted Image By Jenny Vrentas/The Star-Ledger
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Posted ImageJeff Zelevansky/Getty ImagesNew Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano's system is based on running the football, but there is room to throw it, as well.

Mark Sanchez stole spare minutes at home, between meetings or on cross-country flights to and from his native Southern California. He needed to become fluent in Tony Sparano’s new Jets offense this spring, so he turned to the tactics he’s relied on since grade school: Memorization, repetition and flashcards.

The quarterback hoarded blank index cards from the desk of Laura Young, coach Rex Ryan’s assistant, and started sketching formations, protections and plays.

“In pencil, ’cause I’ve got to erase it sometimes,” Sanchez explained.

For the first time since his rookie year, Sanchez has had to learn a new offense, a task that has a critical stake in defining the 2012 Jets.
There is no doubt Ryan and the Jets hired the “like-minded” Sparano to replace former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer in large part because of Sparano’s affinity for ground and pound.

But in the past several weeks, Sanchez and his receivers have happily discovered great potential for the passing game, too, in Sparano’s system.

The key lies in flexibility, allowing the quarterback and his receivers to make fluid and choreographed adjustments in order to best attack the voids and weaknesses of the opposing defense. As Sparano told the offense in a meeting Thursday morning, “We are not robots.”

Sparano’s offense has a heavy emphasis on sight adjustments and hot routes — in which a receiver’s route can be adjusted in response to a blitzing defense — and it also includes a variety of tags and option routes that allow receivers to find open spaces against the coverage.

These are widespread concepts in the NFL, and they existed on some level in Schottenheimer’s system, too. But as receiver Santonio Holmes put it, “We have more than we did last year, let’s just say that.”

“I don’t look back,” said Sparano, who, like Sanchez, was reluctant to compare systems out of respect for the prior staff. “There are a lot of ways to do things. But in our way of doing things here, I think it helps Mark in that he has answers with the football, he can get rid of the football a lot quicker, he can help himself be in a better play.”

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

Having answers with the football is encouraging, because Sanchez’s Achilles’ heel last year was turnovers. He gave the ball away 26 times — 18 interceptions and eight lost fumbles — second-most among NFL quarterbacks. The Jets also want to keep boosting his completion percentage, at 56.7 last season.

The possible benefits of Sparano’s system — tight end Dustin Keller believes it can be “unstoppable” — also bring added responsibility, however. The quarterback and his targets must be on the same page for the passing game to work.

Each player must know each play from the protection outward, and receivers, running backs and tight ends must read blitzing players and the coverage the same way as the quarterback.

“There’s a lot put on the quarterbacks and receivers, and it’s our job to see things the same and to see the coverage the same,” Sanchez explained. “It could adjust a route, could change up the timing of a route, and those are the most important things. Coach Sparano is not shy about putting the emphasis on that to make sure our communication is perfect.”

Through nine weeks of the offseason program and minicamp, this was a theme. It started with Sparano making sure one voice — his — led the teaching process. Quarterbacks, receivers, running backs and tight ends were all in the same room for the initial installation of the passing game, rather than split into individual position groups.

Sparano often challenged his players to see plays from another spot on the field. He would call on a receiver to line up at quarterback, or a quarterback at receiver, and give him a mock situation to walk through.

“A bit more” is placed on Sanchez in this system, in Sparano’s estimation. The quarterback, for instance, must set the protections. Sanchez knew he had to be at the head of the class, and in his fourth year, he started from scratch.

Sanchez preferred not to translate from Schottenheimer’s language, because he thought doing so could confuse coaches and teammates. He wanted to learn the offense like Sparano, a former offensive line coach, sees it: Inside out. He memorized the formations, and then the protections, and then the specific routes.

It’s a far cry from his rookie year, he said, when he simply crammed as many plays as he could into his brain.

THE RECEIVING END

Around Sanchez, his teammates have been committed to holding up their end of the bargain. For instance, receivers must also understand protections in this system, because their rules for running routes depend on it.

Receivers coach Sanjay Lal said he had to “retrain” their ears to listen for the protection in the huddle call. In the meeting room, he’ll line the players up in front of the white board, shout a call, and ask them to draw the play and its adjustments. Walk-throughs and practices often include a "blitz period," in which the defense shows the offense a litany of blitz looks, to make sure the receivers respond the same way as the quarterback.

Sparano admits the offense is still a work in progress, but he is confident the foundation is now in place. When his system is in sync, he believes Sanchez will have options, outlets and the opportunity to get the ball down the field.

Heading into the final day of mini-camp, Sparano said Sanchez’s offseason completion percentage was around 67 or 68 percent in the padless practice sessions.

“What we want to try to do is put ourselves in the best play all the time,” Sparano said. “We’ve got to give them the flexibility to be able to play and be able to win in some of these situations.”

Sparano’s first NFL job was as a quality control coach with the Browns, which also ran a system with a heavy emphasis on sight adjustments and hot routes. Pro offenses will usually have quick outlets built in on pass plays with three-step drops. But receiver Jeremy Kerley said Sparano’s system also gives more options in the five-step and seven-step game to take pressure off the quarterback.

The general idea is that routes are adjusted to allow receivers to run into voids vacated by blitzing defenders and into the quarterback’s vision. Now included in the Jets’ lexicon is the “bandit,” usually a hot receiver on the weak side.

Flexibility in the passing game is also created with tags, which call for a certain receiver to change his route based on the coverage — for instance, to run a “man-beater” route if the defense shows man coverage.

And Kerley noted an increased dose of option routes, which allow inside receivers like him to play off the defender’s leverage or sit in certain windows in coverage.

“That’s why I think everybody is buying into his style of coaching, his playbook that he brought over,” Kerley said. “It works. It’s a lot more freedom, it’s a lot more for us to get out there and just win on routes, period. Just win.”

FREE & EASY

At times last season, players hinted they felt stuck in calls. In the Week 3 loss to Oakland, for example, the Raiders played zone coverage instead of the expected man-to-man. Afterward, Holmes called for the offense to have more freedom to adjust on the fly, saying the players “can’t be forced to continue doing the same things” when the defense is different than expected.

Asked if Sparano’s offense could help in situations like that, Holmes said last week, “No question.”
“It allows us to have a little bit more fun,” Holmes said. “And to know when you mess up, it’s on us or the quarterback, because of a certain sight or certain be-where-you-are-supposed-to-be-at type deal.”

He added: “It gives (Sanchez) options now. He doesn’t have to stare down one receiver to get him the ball. He can throw the ball wherever he wants to, based on the coverage.”

The next step, when the Jets reconvene for training camp next month in Cortland, N.Y., is to coagulate this offense into game form. But at each step so far, they have found slivers of encouragement.

Sanchez cites plays this spring when his flashcards came to life just as drawn up. He and his receiver would get one past the top-five Jets defense, and Sparano would call out excitedly, “That will be on the teach tape!” Those moments make the Jets feel like this offense can be better than 25th in the NFL, and this team can be better than 8-8.

“There is a lot of responsibility, but with all that responsibility comes a lot of potential,” Sanchez said.

“When it works, everybody feels good and it looks good. It looks fluid, it looks effortless, it just looks easy, and we have the ability to do that.”
Jenny Vrentas: jvrentas@starledger.com.
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#2 Maxman

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 08:49 AM

Sparano’s offense has a heavy emphasis on sight adjustments and hot routes — in which a receiver’s route can be adjusted in response to a blitzing defense — and it also includes a variety of tags and option routes that allow receivers to find open spaces against the coverage.


I am a huge fan out letting the QB make changes at the line based on what he sees. Hot routes being a huge part of that, but there is a learning curve there. Everyone has to be on the same page otherwise it could be bad. Here is an example of a hot route gone wrong:


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#3 Maxman

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 08:50 AM

That is weird, they disabled embedding on that video. Click the link above for a video showing the downside to hot routes.
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#4 Smashmouth

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 11:59 AM

He added: “It gives (Sanchez) options now. He doesn’t have to stare down one receiver to get him the ball. He can throw the ball wherever he wants to, based on the coverage.”


Thats interesting is Holmes implying Sanchez had to stick to his primary more often than not in sh*ttys system ? Would'nt doubt it and it certainly would adress why at times he was accused of staring down receivers
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#5 Maxman

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 02:47 PM

He added: “It gives (Sanchez) options now. He doesn’t have to stare down one receiver to get him the ball. He can throw the ball wherever he wants to, based on the coverage.”


Thats interesting is Holmes implying Sanchez had to stick to his primary more often than not in Shittys system ? Would'nt doubt it and it certainly would adress why at times he was accused of staring down receivers


It seems very Paul Hackett'ish. Loved when Testaverde said back in the day that he didn't have the authority to change a play at the line of scrimmage. Good times.
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#6 SenorGato

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 04:19 PM

It's not the stupid system. It's not Sparano's steely glare. It's going to be a 4th year QB getting his act together with a bunch of pass catching options entering or currently in THEIR prime years for things to change in the passing game.

Then there's Stephen Hill...Man I'm so glad they got him in the 2nd. Hated him as a first, f'n might as well be my favorite player drafted coming in the second (if Coples didn't exist and wasn't a steal in the first).

Edited by SenorGato, 17 June 2012 - 04:20 PM.

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#7 Bleedin Green

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 12:49 PM

It's not the stupid system. It's not Sparano's steely glare. It's going to be a 4th year QB getting his act together with a bunch of pass catching options entering or currently in THEIR prime years for things to change in the pa$$ing game.

Then there's Stephen Hill...Man I'm so glad they got him in the 2nd. Hated him as a first, f'n might as well be my favorite player drafted coming in the second (if Coples didn't exist and wasn't a steal in the first).


Yes, yes, we know... despite the fact that the Jets sh*t-canned their old coach, hired a new one and a long list of Jets players have been talking endlessly about the vast improvements to the offensive system, it has absolutely nothing to do with coaching, which you have so graciously reminded us all for the 1000th time is completely meaningless, solely on the basis that you say so. Let everyone else be damned, none of these people know what they're talking about, it's only what they do for a living. Any and all improvements by players will be in a complete vacuum, solely based on their own sudden means to know how to play better, not even slightly aided by coaching or offensive systems whatsoever, regardless if even they say otherwise.
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#8 Matt39

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 01:08 PM

It's not the stupid system. It's not Sparano's steely glare. It's going to be a 4th year QB getting his act together with a bunch of pass catching options entering or currently in THEIR prime years for things to change in the pa$$ing game.

Then there's Stephen Hill...Man I'm so glad they got him in the 2nd. Hated him as a first, f'n might as well be my favorite player drafted coming in the second (if Coples didn't exist and wasn't a steal in the first).


How do you hate Stephen Hill at first and now love him. He's been on the team for 3 months. He hasnt played a down yet.
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#9 RutgersJetFan

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 01:23 PM

It's not the stupid system. It's not Sparano's steely glare. It's going to be a 4th year QB getting his act together


AND SANCHEZ WILL HAVE DONE THIS 100% ON HIS OWN.
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(Chandler)'s a nice piece as long as he's the 7th most important player on your roster....I think they're going to be disappointed when they see he's just a pumped-up Drew Gooden.


#10 Smashmouth

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:01 PM

How do you hate Stephen Hill at first and now love him. He's been on the team for 3 months. He hasnt played a down yet.


I think he said he hated him AS a first round pick but was glad we took him as a second rounder .
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#11 SenorGato

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:22 PM

AND SANCHEZ WILL HAVE DONE THIS 100% ON HIS OWN


with a bunch of pass catching options entering or currently in THEIR prime years.

Edited by SenorGato, 18 June 2012 - 02:25 PM.

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#12 SenorGato

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:24 PM

How do you hate Stephen Hill at first and now love him. He's been on the team for 3 months. He hasnt played a down yet.


He was a WR with maybe 50 catches in college and freak measurables. At 1:16...BOOO. In the second, even with a trade up? Yippee.



Yes, I realize that post-draft nobody actually cares so long as he doesn't suck. That said, Coples + Hill >>> Hill + Picka2nd

Edited by SenorGato, 18 June 2012 - 02:26 PM.

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#13 RutgersJetFan

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:24 PM

with a bunch of pass catching options entering or currently in THEIR prime years


ALL WHO BECAME FOOTBALL PLAYERS 100% ON THEIR OWN AND INVENTED THEIR OWN OFFENSE AND CALL THEIR OWN PLAYS.
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(Chandler)'s a nice piece as long as he's the 7th most important player on your roster....I think they're going to be disappointed when they see he's just a pumped-up Drew Gooden.


#14 SenorGato

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:29 PM

ALL WHO BECAME FOOTBALL PLAYERS 100% ON THEIR OWN AND INVENTED THEIR OWN OFFENSE AND CALL THEIR OWN PLAYS.


Well, no, but they'll be the ones actually making the X's and/or circles on paper actually happen in the real world. It's part of the reason why Tom Moore being here didn't help Sanchez become Mini-Manning last year.

Players play, if you were from Atlanta you'd know that or sumthin.

Edited by SenorGato, 18 June 2012 - 02:31 PM.

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#15 RutgersJetFan

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:30 PM

Well, no, but they'll be the ones actually making the X's and/or circles on paper actually happen in the real world.


WHO CARES. THOSE X'S AND O'S ARE IRRELEVANT ANYWAYS.
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(Chandler)'s a nice piece as long as he's the 7th most important player on your roster....I think they're going to be disappointed when they see he's just a pumped-up Drew Gooden.


#16 SenorGato

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:33 PM

WHO CARES. THOSE X'S AND O'S ARE IRRELEVANT ANYWAYS.


WHILE IT'S POSSIBLE THAT SPARANO'S ARE UNIQUE AND SPECIAL X'S AND O'S DESIGNED TO GET EVERYONE OPEN AND GENERATE FIRST DOWNS + TOUCHDOWNS, I'M GUESSING THAT IT'S NOT THAT DIFFERENT.
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#17 RutgersJetFan

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:35 PM

WHILE IT'S POSSIBLE THAT SPARANO'S ARE UNIQUE AND SPECIAL X'S AND O'S DESIGNED TO GET EVERYONE OPEN AND GENERATE FIRST DOWNS + TOUCHDOWNS, I'M GUESSING THAT IT'S NOT THAT DIFFERENT.


THERE'S NO WAY IT'S DIFFERENT. ALL OFFENSE ARE SAME. PLAYERS ARE ALL THAT MATTER IN OFFENSE. ALL HAIL GLORIOUS OFFENSE.
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(Chandler)'s a nice piece as long as he's the 7th most important player on your roster....I think they're going to be disappointed when they see he's just a pumped-up Drew Gooden.


#18 SenorGato

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:39 PM

BTW: Sparano DOES fit here. He and the HC strongly believe in OL play and running game open up an offense. Most coaches from the 2000's revolve their offense around the QB. Neither Rex or Sparano have ever been in possession of one of those things, so...Yeah...'50's offense is what we're told to expect and hope the QB shows up. If not, they even traded for a 50's QB.

Edited by SenorGato, 18 June 2012 - 02:46 PM.

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#19 SenorGato

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:40 PM

THERE'S NO WAY IT'S DIFFERENT. ALL OFFENSE ARE SAME. PLAYERS ARE ALL THAT MATTER IN OFFENSE. ALL HAIL GLORIOUS OFFENSE.


Losing steam fast.

So, what does Sparano bring for the pa$$ing game? All caps if you can again. PROVEN grittiness or something? A STEELY glare? RESPECT that he COMMANDS through the TOUGHNESS of his GRIT and STEELINESS? GRINDING effort? Routes designed to GUT OUT first downs? None of that reading/thinking sh*t that burns holes in brains? Where's that GRADING tight end this unique and special offense of Sparano's supposedly requires to get it's magic going?

Edited by SenorGato, 18 June 2012 - 02:50 PM.

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#20 bitonti

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 03:23 PM

THERE'S NO WAY IT'S DIFFERENT. ALL OFFENSE ARE SAME. PLAYERS ARE ALL THAT MATTER IN OFFENSE. ALL HAIL GLORIOUS OFFENSE.


this is sarcastic but really all offenses are pretty much the same. the difference is organization and playcalling. Hopefully Sparano is an improvement on both. And hopefully they run hard and set up play action, instead of relying on mark to be tom brady.

But this theory that mark isn't gonna have hot routes and the offense is gonna be much simpler, i don't buy that.
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#21 Smashmouth

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 03:36 PM

WHY IS EVERYONE SCREAMING
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#22 SenorGato

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 03:49 PM

this is sarcastic but really all offenses are pretty much the same. the difference is organization and playcalling. Hopefully Sparano is an improvement on both. And hopefully they run hard and set up play action, instead of relying on mark to be tom brady.

But this theory that mark isn't gonna have hot routes and the offense is gonna be much simpler, i don't buy that.


HOT ROUTES, MOTION, AND READS ONLY COMPLICATE FOOTBALL! SANCHEZ'S BRAIN CAN'T HANDLE THAT KIND OF WORKLOAD. IT'S UNFAIR TO ASK SO MUCH! HE'S JUST A BOY DAMMIT! WHAT IF THAT WERE YOUR SON OUT THERE EVERY SUNDAY!?!?

Edited by SenorGato, 18 June 2012 - 03:50 PM.

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#23 SenorGato

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 03:50 PM

WHY IS EVERYONE SCREAMING


I CAN'T STOP YELLIN THIS HOW I TALK!
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#24 Smashmouth

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 04:00 PM

I CAN'T STOP YELLIN THIS HOW I TALK!


OK
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#25 SenorGato

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 04:07 PM

OK


HWHAT?!
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