By hiring Tony Sparano to be their offensive coordinator, The New York Jets are going back to the future. There seems to be a split on the overall feelings about the hire, but Sparano appears to be a great fit for the Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. While some long for the impressive aerial attacks we see throughout the NFL, Sparano's safer style is the right way to go. As the Jets go back to the future, a more "conservative" offense will actually make them a much more dangerous team by eliminating their biggest downfall in 2011.
Turnovers absolutely killed the New York Jets in 2011. While anyone watching the team over the course of the season understands that, the numbers really make it stand out: the Jets allowed 126 points off of turnovers last season, the most in the NFL. Spread over the 16-game regular season, that's just under eight points a game the Jets gave up due to turnovers. Pair that with an offense that ranked 13th in the league in scoring at 23.6 points per game, and the defense is put in quite a bind.
There are a bunch of games that the Jets seemingly gave away due to their inability to hang onto the ball, but the greatest illustration had to be the Sunday night debacle against the Baltimore Ravens. The Jets offense was on the field for three Ravens touchdowns and a fumble set up one of Baltimore's field goals. That's 24 points handed to their opposition – and they lost by 17.
The Jets have decided that instead of trying to score more points to offset those turnovers, it's easier to cut down on the turnovers and protect the football. Instead of trying to jump on the recent passing fixation that has swept the league they are going to stick with the tried and true football formula of a strong running game, limited turnovers and a top-notch defense. It's what worked for them in the first two seasons under Rex Ryan and it's what Ryan believes in. Ryan now has an offensive coordinator that thinks the same way.
The move wasn't free of criticism. Some have equated the Jets going back to a run-heavy offense with playing checkers while everyone is playing chess. That's a product of the misconception that you have to throw the ball in today's NFL to be successful. That notion has been perpetuated by the media and fans who prefer that style of high-scoring offense.
In reality, good defense paired with a good running game works just as well as the high-powered passing attacks that blow up the highlight shows. Two of the four teams in still playing in the Conference Championship round were predicated on old school, hard-nosed football. Take another step back to the Divisional Round and once again half of the teams playing reflected that style of play.
For those that aren't purists it might not be the most exciting or pretty style to watch, but in the end Rex Ryan and the Jets won't be judged on how pretty they look. It's all about winning and this is the way they have to do it.
Everyone keeps asking how the Jets are going to solve their many problems, but some haven't seen that one of the answers has already been put into place. By eliminating the extraordinary amount of points the Jets gave up off turnovers, they have a great chance to rack up a few more wins and find themselves in the playoffs again. The first step to winning is not beating yourself.
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