But his presence could have an even bigger impact on the development of Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Former Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne may be viewed by some as a bad omen for Sparano's impact on quarterbacks, but one thing he does incredibly well is simplify the game for his quarterbacks. At that point, it's up to them to execute.
And we know that when the game is simplified for Sanchez, that's when he does his best.
The first thing that jumps off the page when looking back at Sparano's offenses with the Dolphins is incredible balance between the ground and aerial attacks. Keeping the opposing defense honest is a great way to help the quarterback.
But it goes much further than that.
The Dolphins' first win of the season came against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9. Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore is a better quarterback than people give him credit for, but the Chiefs had a stellar pass defense last year that ranked seventh in defensive passer rating with a 79.1 on the season.
In that game, Moore went 17-for-23 passing (73.9 percent) for 244 yards, three touchdowns and a 147.5 passer rating. And he did it thanks to a simplified offensive game plan.
Let's take a look at one of the touchdown passes thrown by Moore in that game, a 3-yard strike to tight end Anthony Fasano.
Just seconds prior to this play, the analysts on the television broadcast discussed the Dolphins' red-zone deficiencies, with a stat on the bottom of the screen indicating (at that point) nine touchdowns and nine field goals on 23 red-zone attempts for the third-worst red-zone offense in the NFL.
Even from three yards out, this wasn't a sure thing. But the Dolphins drew up a beauty to make it a sure thing.
On 1st-and-goal, the Dolphins line up in the Power I formation with just one wide receiver, Brandon Marshall, flanking the set and running back Daniel Thomas lined up behind Moore. The Chiefs line up in a 3-4 base package.
Tight end Jeron Mastrud motions from right to left across the formation. Cornerback Brandon Flowers mirrors him, and with that, Moore easily identifies man coverage.
The play action freezes the linebackers, leaving a gaping void behind the defense where Moore can throw to a wide-open Fasano.
And sure enough, that hole is still there a split-second later when Moore pulls the trigger on the throw.
CBS Sports analyst Solomon Wilcots breaks down the play and delivers some great insight:
Watch Donald Washington, No,. 27, he just lets the tight end go. He takes his eye off of him. He thought it was a run, he bit on the play-action fake, eyes on the backfield and not on the man he's supposed to be covering, which is Anthony Fasano.
While Washington biting on the play action certainly didn't help his chances to defend the pass, the Dolphins knew this play would work before the ball was even snapped. The reason was a play call that allowed Moore to make an easy read and make an easy throw.
Speaking of easy reads, many fans have wondered where the roll-out plays for Sanchez have gone. With an athletic quarterback like Sanchez, it's not hard to see why. Plus, it makes his reads much easier because he doesn't have to look over his offensive line, instead reading the defense with nothing impeding his line of sight.
We get a good example of a Sparano rollout here:
On 1st-and-10, the Dolphins come out 12 personnel, with one running back and two tight ends. The Chiefs stack the box, expecting the run, and line up in press man coverage against the Dolphins receivers. They keep only one safety deep to defend the long pass.
The ball is snapped, and the defense bites on the play action like a dog into a bone.
This includes the linebackers, who all move to their left as Moore rolls out to the right.
Seven Chiefs defenders in the screen shot against five Dolphins offensive players—someone's going to be wide open.
That someone is once again Fasano, who runs across the formation from right to left, where there is yet another wide-open gap in the coverage. Sure enough, Fasano makes the long catch and takes it for a touchdown.
Wilcots on the call:
They slip Daniel Thomas, the back, out here and it's a rollout by the quarterback, but here's Fasano clearing, and he'll go over to the other side against that reverse action. Take a look at it, see how he slips underneath the coverage, now he comes out wide open there. Easy throw-and-catch at that point, but it was just a well-designed play by the Miami Dolphins offense.
Not every rollout will result in a receiver being as wide open as Fasano is here, but this is exactly the type of play that the Jets need to run more of in order to maximize Sanchez's skill set and allow him to make reads away from pressure.
Also notice that, both times, the play action plays a significant role in the defender coming wide open. Getting back to a more run-centric offense will only enhance the effectiveness of the play action, especially if the Jets are effective running the ball.
Sparano's offense is a great fit for the Jets, and it shouldn't take long before the rest of the NFL realizes it.
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