Tony Sparano once beat Bill Belichick with the single wing T.J. Oshie Jersey , but wasn’t as old as that made him sound.
Sparano was only 56 when he died unexpectedly Sunday. The Minnesota Vikings announced his death in a statement that did not provide a cause.
He had been the Vikings’ offensive line coach since 2016.
The most memorable moment in Sparano’s 19-year NFL coaching career came in 2008, when he was a rookie head coach with the Miami Dolphins, inheriting a team that had gone 1-15 the previous season. In Week 3 he surprised Belichick with a single wing-style formation that the Dolphins called the wildcat, and they won at New England 38-13.
The wildcat became a fad around the league, and the stunning upset propelled Sparano’s team to 11 wins and the AFC East title. It’s one of two playoff berths for the franchise since 2002.
That was Sparano’s lone winning season, and he was fired in 2011 after going 29-32 in Miami. He was popular with his players, but a dismal home record, declining attendance and a falling-out with general manager Jeff Ireland accelerated his firing by owner Stephen Ross.
Sparano was the Oakland Raiders‘ interim head coach in 2014 after the team fired Dennis Allen, and he went 3-9. He also worked as an assistant for the Browns, Redskins, Jaguars, Cowboys and 49ers, and most recently for Vikings coach Mike Zimmer.
”I love Tony Sparano,” Zimmer said in a statement. ”He was a great teacher, a grinder of a worker and had a toughness and fighting spirit that showed in our linemen. He was a great husband, father and grandfather and a great friend to me. This is just sinking in for us, but Tony will be sorely missed by all.”
Sparano’s former players also paid tribute.
”Heart broken and lost for words! We lost a great man http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/brian-quick-jersey ,” tweeted Brian Hartline, who played receiver for Sparano in Miami.
”Damn I’m at a loss for words,” tweeted Raiders Pro Bowl tackle Donald Penn. ”Coach Sparano taught me so much not just about football about life also.”
Sparano played at the University of New Haven where he was a four-year letterman. He was hired as New Haven’s head coach in 1994 and held that position for five seasons.
In Miami, Sparano lost his first two games before turning to the wildcat. Six times they ran plays from the formation at New England, snapping the ball directly to running back Ronnie Brown, and four of those plays resulted in touchdowns.
”It was like playing hide and go seek, making them guess,” Brown said at the time.
Sparano said the Dolphins began practicing the wildcat during training camp but waited until the Patriots game to spring it.
”This is not something that just came up and we scribbled on the board a couple of days ago,” the coach said.
Defenses soon adjusted, and a sputtering offense in Sparano’s final two seasons at Miami contributed to his firing. But the Dolphins haven’t won at New England since the wildcat game.
”We were saddened to learn of Tony Sparano’s tragic and unexpected passing,” owner Ross said in a statement. ”Tony made an indelible impact on our team’s history. His toughness, grit and leadership were evident to everyone who had the chance to coach with or play for him.”
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Standing on the sideline and watching one-on-one drills, Jalen Ramsey had an up-close look at this touchdown.
The receiver used a triple move to beat one of Ramsey’s fellow defensive backs.
Ramsey shook his head in disbelief and hollered a few choice words across the practice field.
“That ain’t happening in a game,” Ramsey said, noting how long it took the play to develop. “Our defense is too good.”
Ramsey was being modest. Jacksonville’s D has a chance to be great, maybe even generational.
The bold Sammy Baugh Jersey , brash Jaguars , who relied on stout defense to win the AFC South and reach the conference title game last season, believe they will be even better on that side of the ball this fall. The unit allowed too many rushing yards early in 2017 and gave up too many big plays late, but pinned those problems on having three newcomers and three second-year players learning how to mesh while honing the details of coordinator Todd Wash’s 4-3 scheme.
Nowadays, they feel like they’ve figured out each other and the playbook.
And in a Super Bowl-or-bust season for Jacksonville, the talent-laden group plans to do whatever it takes to hoist the Lombardi Trophy and join a list of revered defenses that have carried teams to championships.
“Every great defense has won it all,” Pro Bowl linebacker Telvin Smith said. “That is what we want to be. A great defense is not mediocre. It is not to say you won a couple (division) championships. No, we want to say we dominated the world. That is the next step.”
The Jaguars finished second in the NFL in yards (286.1 per game), points (15.8), sacks (55), takeaways (33) and interceptions (21) last year. Players wanted more and were admittedly disappointed with the final rankings.
Coach Doug Marrone has since used it as motivation, publicly and privately needling his defenders.
“Make no mistake about it, I like it when people have a chip on their shoulder,” Marrone said. “I have a boulder on my shoulder.”
The Jaguars feel they have plenty to prove, mostly because of how last season ended .
Jacksonville squandered a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter of the AFC championship game at New England. The vaunted defense gave up an 85-yard touchdown drive — the key play was a 21-yard completion on third and 18 that left players openly questioning the scheme — and then allowed Tom Brady and Danny Amendola to hook up again for another score late.
“I would be lying if I said that didn’t keep me up all offseason,” said safety Tashaun Gipson, who blamed himself for the rare conversion. “Got lax. … I have to make that play.”
Even though they don’t want to look back http://www.jaguarscheapshop.com/cheap-authentic-leonard-fournette-jersey , the Jaguars will try to make amends.
Jacksonville returns 12 of its top 14 defenders from 2017, including six Pro Bowl selections. The only guys missing are veteran linebacker Paul Posluszny, who retired from the NFL after 11 seasons , and nickel cornerback Aaron Colvin, who signed a four-year, $34 million contract with division rival Houston.
Even without them, the Jags will have eight starters on that side of the ball who have made the Pro Bowl in the last four years. That’s talent at every level of the defense, a mix of youth and experience.
All-Pro defensive end Calais Campbell is coming off a career year that included 14 1/2 sacks and is the undisputed leader of what is widely considered the most disruptive front in the league. Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (20 sacks and an NFL-leading 10 forced fumbles in two seasons) is a budding star. Malik Jackson is one of the most complete defensive tackles in the league. Fellow inside guy Marcell Dareus, acquired from Buffalo in late October, helped shore up a shaky run defense. Jacksonville ranked 30th in the league without him and eighth with him.
Speedy linebackers Smith and Myles Jack benefit most from the star-studded D-line, free to chase ball-carriers and make plays all over the field. Smith and Jack had a hand in three of Jacksonville’s seven defensive touchdowns in 2017.
The secondary scored just once, but was nonetheless a big part of the group’s success.
Jacksonville led the league in passing defense, giving up 20 yards a game fewer than anyone else, and was the only team in the league to have four players with at least four interceptions. Ramsey, Gipson and fellow safety Barry Church had four apiece.
While Ramsey emerged as the league’s best — and most vocal — lock-down cornerback, A.J. Bouye was just as good on the opposite side. Bouye had six interceptions, knocked down a dozen more passes and didn’t allow a touchdown in the regular season. According to Pro Football Focus http://www.dallascowboysteamonline.com/taco-charlton-jersey , quarterbacks posted the lowest passer rating in the league when throwing his way.
“We put up all those numbers, but it is a new year,” Bouye said. “There are teams that are really studying us now as a defense. We are just going to be ready for everything and we are going to continue to make plays.”
The Jags can only hope to get their money’s worth.
Their defense is the most expensive ever assembled, with the small-market franchise slotted to pay more than $110 million to the D in 2018.
The Jags are built to win now, and even though a number of rising stars have Jacksonville well-positioned for years to come, the defense may never been stacked like this again.
It has drawn comparisons to some of the NFL’s greats, including the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers, the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the 2008 Steelers, the 2013 Seattle Seahawks and the 2015 Denver Broncos.
All those teams have a Super Bowl victory in common.
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