Tony Sparano defends game plan

Updated: September 20, 2012, 7:56 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano got into a testy exchange with reporters Thursday when he refused to discuss last week's poor showing against the Pittsburgh Steelers -- except to defend his decision to limit Tim Tebow's snaps.

Sparano said the thought of using Tebow never crossed his mind in the first half when the offense was playing well, an admission that contradicted his philosophy in Week 1.

Sparano That game's over, OK? If you want to talk about Miami, I'll talk about Miami. I don't want to talk about that game. I can't help you with that. My mind's in a different place.

-- Tony Sparano

"We averaged almost six yards per play (5.3) in the first half of the game," said Sparano, who is preparing to face his previous team, the Miami Dolphins. "I can't really worry about anything that's not going through my mind at that point. Things were going well."

In the opener, the Jets averaged 6.2 yards per play in the first half en route to a rout of the Buffalo Bills, but Sparano still managed to use Tebow for six plays at quarterback. Against the Steelers, Tebow didn't enter the game until the third quarter -- and it was three plays and out. The Jets lost, 27-10, going scoreless on their final eight possessions.

Sparano discussed the complexities of using Tebow, saying it requires two game plans and an extra four or five hours of prep time. Sparano introduced the Wildcat to the NFL in 2008, his first year in Miami, but said it's different with Tebow because he's a quarterback, not a running back.

"In this deal here, I don't have evidence," he said, suggesting it's uncharted territory. "In other words, there aren't people doing some of the things we're doing."

Nevertheless, the Jets hyped Tebow in the preseason, billing him as a complementary player in their offense. But in two games, Tebow has played only 11 snaps at quarterback, making little impact. He hasn't thrown a single pass.

Tebow's lack of involvement has fueled headlines in New York, but Rex Ryan indicated this week that he won't let the media dictate how much he plays Tebow.

The Jets' offense, so impressive in the opener, bottomed out in Pittsburgh. But Sparano was in no mood to rehash the problems.

"That game's over, OK?" he said, bristling. "If you want to talk about Miami, I'll talk about Miami. I don't want to talk about that game. I can't help you with that. My mind's in a different place."

Sparano's regular day to address the media is Thursday. The previous week, he answered questions about the opening-day win, although somewhat reluctantly.

This figures to be an emotional game for Sparano, who coached the Dolphins from 2008 to 2011. He was fired with three games left last season after compiling a 29-32 record, including one playoff appearance.

Sparano was revered in South Florida after leading the Dolphins to the AFC East title in his first season, one year after they were 1-15. After the 2010 season, owner Stephen Ross courted Jim Harbaugh, an awkward situation that probably undermined Sparano.

"I have no bitter feelings toward anyone there," he said. "I've gone back to a lot of places where I coached ... but this is a little something different. Starting from where we were, and the amount of work that had to go into it, it's a little bit different. But I don't have any hard feelings. It's part of the job. It's how the league works."

Sparano said he has no idea how to find the visitor's locker room in Sun Life Stadium. One of his current players said they'd like to see him exact revenge on his former team.

"We want to go out and win for him, just so he can get his last laugh," running back Joe McKnight said. "The last laugh always laughs loudest."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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