Last week, DolfansNYC attended Web Weekend, an annual event hosted by the Miami Dolphins for the team’s top fan websites. Prior to Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, Coach Tony Sparano addressed the crowd and spoke about a number of key topics, after which we he took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for our podcast.
Below are the main portions from the group Q&A, followed by our exclusive one-on-one interview with Coach Sparano, in which he talks about his football playing career, the decision behind hiring offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and his thoughts on New York and DolfansNYC.
On under-the-radar players to watch for:
I think a guy that you should watch out for, predicated on what Iâ€™ve seen throughout training camp â€“ and I donâ€™t like singling any players out, as Iâ€™m sure you guys know â€“ Iâ€™ll tell you that Reshad Jones is a guy I would watch. Â Â This guy had 13 tackles (against the Patriots), and has had a really good training camp, has really good range and ball skills back there.Â I think heâ€™s a guy that could have a really good year as a young player for us.
Iâ€™m hoping that Jared Odrick will continue to get better.Â He needs to play, and he obviously hasnâ€™t played in a long time.Â So, Jared would be a guy that I would say the same thing about. Â And then maybe a young guy like Daniel Thomas.
On the roster decision-making process:
The first thing we identify, is where the need is â€“ obviously, just because thereâ€™s a player out there, he might not satisfy our needs at that particular time.Â There were a lot of good players out there when free agency hit at the end of the lockout, but we had a particular plan in mind, knowing what we had coming back and knowing maybe a little bit about what we needed.
This year, business was done a little bit differently, only because the draft was done before free agency.Â So, in the draft, we got to fill some needs like Clyde Gates, in getting speed, or Mike Pouncey, in finding a center, and Daniel Thomas, in finding a (running) back.Â At that point, it became, â€œokay, weâ€™ve got Daniel Thomas â€“ whatâ€™s the next piece?Â Well, thereâ€™s this Reggie Bush that might be out there.â€Â That was a scenario there where (it was) a hunch on our part, only because Reggie had made a lot of money where he was, (and could have been) a cap casualty.Â And we had all of those things â€“ our scouting department has a list of players that we think are going to be released, a list of players that are free agents, and potential cap casualties.Â And this was a scenario where we were able to get a good player in that situation and bring him to our team.
But the way the process works, is identifying the problem first, then Jeff (Ireland) and I will sit down and go over the possibilities.Â Weâ€™ll have what we call a â€œshort list,â€ a list of players in that area, that weâ€™ll start putting together, weâ€™ll go through, and if we feel like thereâ€™s a chance that we can strike a deal with somebody there that might be a good deal for us, then weâ€™ll push towards that.Â So, itâ€™s mutual, both of us together, but most of the time, itâ€™s about me bringing a need first.
On his thoughts about bringing back the Wildcat:
No, no real thoughts about the Wildcats right now.
The reason the Wildcat originated, was that at that particular time, we didnâ€™t have the personnel that we have on our football team right now.Â You look at Brandon Marshall, and Davone Bess, and Brian Hartline, and Clyde Gates, and Reggie Bush, and (Anthony) Fasano, and these types of people that you can get the football to â€“Â we didnâ€™t have that necessarily; we had Ronnie (Brown) and Ricky (Williams) at the time.Â So, (with) Ronnie and Ricky, how can we get them on the same field at the same time and maybe get the ball in their hands enough times? Â That was kind of the reason why we went with something like that.Â I donâ€™t know that the Wildcat is something that weâ€™re really too interested at this time.
(After audience applauds) You werenâ€™t clapping way back when â€“ it was genius at that point.
On the biggest difference in Chad Henne this season:
I would say that the biggest difference isnâ€™t necessarily in Chad â€“ the difference is in how the team perceives Chad.Â Chad is the same Chad that I know from the previous years.Â The difference is, if the lockout was good for anything from my end, as a football coach, the lockout was good because Chad had to be out there running these workouts on his own. Â He had the keys to the closet and he was the only guy that really knew about the offense, contrary to popular belief out there.Â The players needed him â€“ they had to come to him for the answers.Â So, in these player-only workouts that took place out there, Chad had all the answers for them, so obviously he got them lined up, he organized the practices, he did everything from that standpoint.Â So now, when Chad says something, it isnâ€™t, â€œwell, let me go find somebody else to get the answer,â€ itâ€™s, â€œI got it, Chad.â€Â At the quarterback position, he drives the bus, and at the end of this thing, it really sets on his shoulders.Â So he needs to have that respect, and I think that Chad clearly has the respect right now.
DolfansNYC Podcast with Coach Tony Sparano:
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Music Credit: Solo D, “DolfansNYC Anthem”