Midway through the first session of rookie camp, new Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano was getting a little hoarse as he raced around the field.
Sparano, who spent the last three and a half seasons as head coach of the Dolphins, was a blur of sound and activity as he coached the rookies and undrafted free agents hoping to make the team.
Sparano is a bit gruff — unafraid to heap criticism or praise on his players.
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In many ways, he’s the polar opposite of the man he replaces as offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, a name Jets fans were all too happy to see get whacked.
“I like him. It’s night and day from ‘Schotty,’ but I think it’s a good change,” right tackle Wayne Hunter said. “Attitude-wise, just the presence he brings, it’s night and day. Change is always good I think.”
The Jets needed that kind of change coming off last year with an offense that struggled under Schottenheimer. They were in the bottom third of the league in terms of total offense despite a plethora of talent surrounding quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Under the fiery Sparano, they plan to turn towards a run-heavy offense similar to the one that carried the Jets to the AFC championship game the previous two seasons.
“It’s going to be a joint thing to get back to what we had established ourselves with,” running back Joe Mc-Knight told Metro New York. “We have a great offensive line with everyone coming back. We’re just looking forward to getting the running game on the road, getting it moving.
“We really don’t know right now exactly how it’s going to look. That’s the history of him though — that he likes to run the ball. Every year you change, but that’s his history.”
Sparano preaches accountability, something which seemed to be lacking in the locker room last year. There was lots of public sniping and infighting among the unit, with wide receiver Santonio Holmes taking shots at the offensive line last year, the offensive line firing back and a report that the wide receivers had privately complained to head coach Rex Ryan about the offense.
Under a personality like Sparano, that type of internal bickering won’t be allowed.
“He’s to the point. He’s a no-nonsense guy. He seems exactly what we need. We’re excited about his arrival; he’s really pushing us,” Slauson said. “It’s been great so far. He’s coached three weeks so far. He’s exactly what we needed.”
Perhaps no one has heard or seen the impact of Sparano more than tight end Hayden Smith, the Australian born rugby player who is still very new to the NFL. Smith met Sparano during his workout and tour of the facility in February and even then he recalls the coordinator’s intensity. It is a bit of a culture shock for Smith, who said that rugby practices were a bit more low key and less focused on the technical side. But as he continues his transition, he does appreciate Sparano’s moxie.
“He’s a tough coach. He’s going to accelerate my process — what I’m learning because he’s not going to accept anything less,” Smith told Metro New York. “Coach out on the field will make comments to me, things to adjust. Those quick, direct comments that get right to the point. There’s no messing about.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.