Notes: Sparano isn't Captain Crunch Time

June, 3, 2012
6/03/12
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Sunday notes and observations on the Jets and the NFL:

1. NOT TWO-MINUTE TONY: Rex Ryan praised Tony Sparano's ability to coordinate a two-minute offense, comparing his organizational skills to those of Bill Belichick. "Nobody has done it better than the Dolphins in the last few years," Ryan said. Actually, just about every team has done it better. During his four seasons as the Dolphins' head coach (2008-2011), Sparano's offense recorded a league-low 11 TDs in the final two minutes of each half, according to ESPN Stats & Information. (The Colts led with 33 TDs.) The Dolphins also produced the third-lowest point total, 146. (The Saints led with 298.) The Dolphins can't chalk it up to a lack of opportunities; they had 145 drives in the final two minutes of each half, ninth-most in the league. Sparano might be an organized, detail-obsessed coach, but those attributes haven't produced winning results in hurry-up situations.

2. MORE 4-3 LOOKS: The decision to draft DE Quinton Coples fueled speculation that the Jets, who employ a 3-4 base defense, will use more 4-3 alignments. Well, it's not speculation anymore; it's true. "It just makes sense to use four true defensive linemen," DC Mike Pettine told ESPNNewYork.com. They've always sprinkled in some 4-3, but it usually involved an OLB (Calvin Pace or Bryan Thomas) lining up in a three-point stance with three linemen. But now the plan in certain situations is to line up Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson on the outside, with Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito inside -- all true linemen. Two reasons: There's uncertainty at Thomas' position (he's returning from Achilles tendon surgery) and it keeps DeVito on the field. Pettine said he wants his best 11.

3. MONEY MATTERS: Obviously, Darrelle Revis isn't happy with his contract. Whether he's willing to go to the mattresses (pardon the "Godfather" reference) remains to be seen. If he does, if he stages his second training-camp holdout in three years, it could get ugly because you get the distinct sense the Jets have absolutely no desire to renegotiate. Interestingly, former Jets coach and ESPN analyst Eric Mangini, in an on-air segment, sided with Revis in the potential dispute.

4. FAULT LINE: The Jets signed two journeymen OTs on the same day, Ray Willis and Stephon Heyer, and many assumed it was to replace beleaguered RT Wayne Hunter. This is how an opposing personnel executive interpreted the moves: "Those moves are insurance and tell me they may not trust their current insurance -- (Vladimir Ducasse)." Not coincidentally, Ducasse has been working at left guard during OTAs. In his career, he has gone from left guard to right tackle to left guard. Next is left out.

5. VEEP EXODUS: The Jets' front office has experienced significant upheaval over the last two years. Three vice presidents left the organization to "pursue other opportunities," as they say in the business -- Matt Higgins (business operations), Thad Sheely (finance/stadium development) and Joey Clinkscales (college scouting). A fourth VP Bob Parente (programming/media production), one of the true gentlemen, is moving to a consulting role after 35 years in the organization. Change is inevitable in any business, but this is a curious amount of turnover.

6. MAGICAL MOMENT: Johan Santana's no-hitter, the first in Mets history, got me to thinking: What would be the Jets' equivalent to Santana's achievement? Curious to get your thoughts.

7. CHECK, PLEASE: Coples recently went out to dinner with the rest of the defensive linemen, and the No. 1 pick thought he'd have to use some of his $4.8 million signing bonus to pay the entire tab. It's an NFL tradition: The rookie pays. "He was getting a little nervous," Pouha said. But the Jets' D-line has its own tradition: The oldest pays. In this case, Pouha. That tradition started in 2005, Pouha's rookie year, when he was saved by elder statesman Shaun Ellis, who grabbed the check. That's what you call paying it forward.

8. HARD (TO BELIEVE) KNOCKS: That the Dolphins agreed to HBO's "Hard Knocks" is stunning because their top football man, GM Jeff Ireland, is a Bill Parcells disciple. If you know anything about Parcells, who hired Ireland in Miami, you know he'd rather watch a re-run loop of the Jets-Broncos '98 AFC Championship Game than have TV cameras invading his inner sanctum. But Parcells is long gone in Miami, and the Dolphins have an owner, Stephen Ross, who needs to fill his stadium and grow his brand. Rookie coach Joe Philbin called it a "football decision," which was laughable.

9. HIS NOSE IS GROWING: Niners coach Jim Harbaugh said he never pursued Peyton Manning in free agency. Oh, really? Next he'll be telling us he and Jim Schwartz are going on a fishing trip together.

10. ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS: The Giants finally took care of Osi Umenyiora, but they did it in a curious way -- money for nothing. They gave him a $3.5 million raise for 2012, but they didn't get anything in return -- no additional years on the contract, according to various reports. He's still a free agent after the season. Strange way of doing business. I guess they got tired of hearing him whine.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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