When Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano signs his next contract with the Jets, he might need to include a “finder’s fee” clause.
According to safety Yeremiah Bell, who the Jets signed to a free-agent contract two weeks ago, Sparano was a big reason why he came to New York, even if he won’t ever line-up on the offensive side of the ball.
Sparano had spent the previous 3 1/2 seasons as head coach of the Miami Dolphins and knew Bell well from that time. Bell, a hard-hitting safety, was a sixth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2003 and the entirety of his eight-year NFL career had been in Miami. He thrived under the feisty and opinionated Sparano, averaging 110 tackles per season over the last four years.
“We go back to the Miami days and he’s a guy I really respect. I took his input and kind of ran with it,” Bell said. “He just told me that I’d be a good fit for this system. He knew the type of player they were looking for and he thought I was it.”
Bell said that his role with the Jets will be as “a playmaker.” His veteran leadership and productivity will be an asset at safety, especially in helping solidify a secondary that struggled to find consistency last year.
He admits it is a transition to learn a new defense, but Bell credits fellow safety Eric Smith in helping him learns the coverages and how the many moving parts of the Jets’ 3-4 defense operates as a unit. But the biggest transition for Bell is hearing Sparano, hired by the Jets this offseason to be their offensive coordinator, yelling at the offense and only at the offense.
Sparano, known to be rather vocal during practice, now can’t voice his opinions at the defense like he used to in Miami when he was head coach. But Bell still responds when he hears his old coach’s voice carry across the field, even when it is Sparano the offensive coordinator making his point to his unit.
“It’s tuned into my head from back in the Miami days. Every time he yells out there I can hear him out the side of my ear,” Bell said. “He’s a guy that’s going to let it be known and he wants to get his point across and he was like that in Miami so I’m sure he’s going to stay like that here.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for more offseason news.