Six weeks into the voluntary workout program, first-year New York Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has already increased the accountability of his players, tight end Dustin Keller said during an appearance at Tuesday night's United Way's Gridiron Gala.
"He definitely runs a tighter ship than I've seen from anyone before, and heâs not going to let anyone slip up," Keller told Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger. "I think thatâs when problems do arise. Itâs going to continue. You can tell itâs not just a one day or an OTA thing, this thing is going to keep on going and going, and I think we need it."
Sparano replaces the much-maligned Brian Schottenheimer, who left the organization shortly after the Jets' disappointing 8-8 season. The Jets' offense regressed considerably in 2011, dropping from 11th in total offense to 25th. Mark Sanchez has not developed into a top quarterback, and the locker room spiraled out of control last season to the point that Schottenheimer had to bench team captain Santonio Holmes during the regular season finale.
The Jets are expected to get back to their "ground-and-pound" roots under Sparano, who brings an in-your-face style of coaching to the Jets and gives as much to his players as he demands in return. That was one of the reasons why the former Miami Dolphins head coach never lost the locker room, even as the team was losing the first seven games to start the 2011 season. The Dolphins won four of five games before a ninth loss sealed Sparano's fate in Miami.
"When Sparano is in there talking, all eyes are on him," Keller said. "Itâs a change. Before, I would say it was a little more laid-back. But with him itâs more stern, and he just has everybodyâs attention, and I think guys are paying more attention to details now more than ever."
The Jets will ramp up their offseason program when they begin OTAs on May 22.