The spin from the Jets’ end of season press conference was thick, especially regarding the job of recently fired offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Sparano was showered with glowing praise by Jets head coach Rex Ryan, despite being fired.
According to Ryan, injuries set back the offense and kept it from being something that resembled a productive unit, in particular the Week 4 injury to Santonio Holmes.
“When you look at the job that [Sparano] did, I don’t know if you know
it, but Santonio Holmes was on pace to have a monster year, [with] 1,200
yards receiving and 90 catches,” Ryan said on Tuesday. “You take that
out, obviously, you’re going to be different.”
Before the knee injury that shelved him for the season, Holmes was actually on track to set a career high with 80 catches and 1,088 receiving yards.
Ryan’s liberal adaptation of the principles of math aside, his point is that the loss of Holmes — the most expensive skill position player on the Jets roster — greatly debilitated the Jets offense. In addition, tight end Dustin Keller missed half the season with a variety of injuries, taking away another target for quarterback Mark Sanchez.
And yet, the numbers still do not add up.
In the first four games of the season (Holmes was injured in the fourth quarter of the fourth game), the offense averaged 284 yards per game. Shockingly, the offense in fact improved to average 304.25 yards per game after the Holmes injury. So without a player whose absence Ryan claimed negatively impacted the team, the Jets actually averaged 20 yards per game more without Holmes.
The numbers from 2012 aren’t too far away from the Jets offense the past few years. In two of the previous three seasons, the Jets have been in the bottom half of the league in total offense.
Sparano may deserve credit for getting something out of an offense that featured few targets and an inept quarterback. The numbers back up a coordinator who is bearing a disproportionate share of the blame, especially since the offense actually got better after the loss of Holmes.
The rationale to part ways according to Ryan is that there was a fundamental difference in the mindset he wanted on offense. Ryan wants an offense that is “unpredictable” and “attacking.”
One prominent player on the Jets offense, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Metro that “the offense seemed stale last year.”
“The playbook seemed to be lighter than under ‘Schotty’ [former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer] and predictable. It felt like the other teams knew what we were going to run before we broke the huddle,” the player said. “You’d talk with players from other teams after the game, guys you know from college or offseason or whatever and they’d say the same thing, that they could predict our plays.”
Moving forward, the Jets are hoping to get away from a run-heavy approach and toward a more balanced approach.
“Just that attack and unpredictability that we have on defense, I think [it] needs to be filtered throughout this football team because I think that’s where I’m at 100 percent now. That’s what I feel. I think before, maybe I misjudged the thing about I just want to ground and pound, that type of mentality,” Ryan said. “Maybe I bought into that more than maybe I should have. Maybe I needed to be more open-minded and look at things a little bit differently, but we have to have it. We have to have that kind of mentality and we have some players certainly capable of playing with that kind of mentality.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.