We're back with the second of three Friday installments of Around the AFC East. With Darrelle Revis on the back burner, it's time to turn our focus to Miami, Florida, where the aquatic-loving football fanatics are placing the hopes of their favorite gridiron bunch in the hands of rookie coach Tony Sparano. Matty I of The Phinsider joins us to discuss...
Please talk about Tony Sparano for us Bills fans. We know he's a Parcells guy with a Parcells pedigree, but that's about all we know. What type of coach is he? What philosophies does/will he preach? Are you comfortable with him as your coach?
The Phinsider: I think the thing that excites Dolphin fans about Tony Sparano is that he's the complete opposite of Cam Cameron last year. There were reports last year that Cam wouldn't put in the hours during the season that other coaches would. He reportedly would scour the internet and read blogs/forums in which fans voiced their opinions rather than look for ways to improve the team. Sparano is a football guy through and through and that's the bottom line.
He comes to Miami as Dallas' former offensive line coach under Bill Parcells (and Wade Phillips). He does have experience as a play caller as well (though he won't be doing that in Miami). But the best quality about Sparano is his attitude – he's a no-nonsense kind of coach who brings a "tougher" atmosphere to Miami. Says Yeremiah Bell, "[the new coaches] are more serious, more to the point than last year's. Sparano will get in your face if he has to. We needed that. Last year, guys were taking it light because they knew nobody would jump in our face and say anything. Coach Cameron wasn't passionate or adamant about [making points]. This year, they're very adamant, even if they have to yell."
Joey Porter adds to this, saying, "The whole mentality around here has changed. We brought some coaches in here that are not going to settle for less. The whole mindset around here has already changed from what I came into here last year. The guys' effort they're putting in now, the way they walk around here is totally different." Porter adds, "These coaches are not accepting just anything. Coaches now demand a whole lot out of you. They don't accept anything but your best. And even in OTAs, they're not accepting 50 percent or 75 percent of your effort. They want 100 percent."
Those two quotes alone say a lot about Sparano and the mentality he brings. And other players have also echoed these same sentiments. So this 2008 team is going to be mentally and physically stronger an will be more prepared to play thanks to Sparano and his staff.
On the plus side, Matty, we got to watch the Bills sweep your team last year while coach Cameron read your eloquently stated misery on The Phinsider!
Seriously, though, anybody has to be an upgrade over Cameron, and Sparano has good blood lines. The attitude he's engendering in his players, not surprisingly, bears a striking semblance to what Bill Parcells brought to a sideline. A mentally strong Dolphin team, already with some talented players, should be much more difficult to beat in 2008. There are still major question marks in Miami, but the Bills are still further along in the development process, and even though it will be tougher, they need those two Dolphin games if they're going to realize their goal of the playoffs. Nothing is easy in the NFL, and the new regime in Miami is proof that nothing will get easier for Buffalo, either.
One more Around the AFC East interview coming your way this afternoon, as we'll - reluctantly - discuss the New England Patriots.