Has Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano realized the light at the end of the tunnel may just be a train?
Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano met with the media yesterday, for his customary day after the game press availability. While the media asked him several questions about the state of the team and what happened during the loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, it was the answer to a question about left tackle Jake Long that has that attention grabbing moment.
Sparano was asked if he was surprised at the number of penalties called on the All-Pro lineman.
"I mean I think the penalties obviously penalties happen during the course of the game. I'll say this about Jake Long…we're all going to really happen down the road here or you're going to all be really happy down the road here that Jake Long is here and he's a Miami Dolphin. We're lucky to have him. He's a tremendous football player. He's been playing really well. He had a couple penalties yesterday. He'll be hard on himself over that but he made a couple of really big plays yesterday too."
Wait, go back. What was that line there in the middle?
"I'll say this about Jake Long… we're all going to really happen down the road here or you're going to all be really happy down the road here that Jake Long is here and he's a Miami Dolphin."
That "or" kind of sticks out, doesn't it? Has Sparano accepted his fate, and is know acknowledging this is his last year as the head coach of the Dolphins?
As a fan base, we are back to clamoring for Sparano's head, following the latest loss. But, as a fan base, we are also in to the extremes. We've gone from "Suck for Luck," to ecstasy following the first win, to talking about the playoffs and how Sparano wasn't on the hot seat anymore after three wins in a row, to back demanding Sparano be fired today following a loss to a very good, playoff bound team. So, maybe reading so much into a two-letter word is overkill. But, that "or" still seems a little strange.
But, then again, this is the same team that saw owner Stephen Ross fly to California and try to hire then-Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh during the offseason - with Sparano still under contract as the team's head coach. This is the same team that has, reportedly, sent back-channels feelers out to see if CBS analyst Bill Cowher is ready to come back to coaching next year.
If Tony Sparano can't see the writing on the wall - make that the Las Vegas-style neon lighting on the wall - then, he's really just playing out this year with his head in the sand.
The full transcript of Tony Sparano's press conference, via the South Florida Sun Sentinel, is below:
On the secondary playing better: "I think its two fold. I think one we're covering obviously with a lot more confidence right now. Guys are doing a nice job of understanding the pattern stuff. That just comes with repetition, game reps. Having the same people back there as well. Early on there was a lot of moving parts. Right now it's been pretty consistent. I think the pressure that we're getting on the quarterback has a lot to do with where the ball is being thrown and what's happening."
On if it will be tough for the guys to pick it up and get back at it after yesterday's loss: "You guys ask me that question after every single game. I mean you ask me the same question. And then you eventually end up answering it yourselves. It's not going to be difficult. These guys are pros. They're excited. They played a heck of a football game, a hard fought national NFL game last night. It was a hard fought game. We didn't win the game. I'm proud of the effort the guys put out there. We didn't win the game. They'll be excited to get back to work. They'll be a little bit healthier and ready to go."On after he watched the film if there was any reason why they couldn't find the end zone more: "Yeah, execution. At the end of it all we've been doing a good job of it the last three weeks or so. We had some really good opportunities down there, really good looks at it and just didn't finish, just didn't execute. It was one thing here, one thing there, whatever it was. When you watch it that was probably one of the most disappointing things in the game because I think had we been able to finish one or two of those and turn them into points it would have been a complete different type of a game because it would have changed the way they might have had to play the game. I thought that might have helped us a little bit there. At the end of it we still had a chance to win the football game at the end and weren't able to do it. We didn't make enough plays. They made one more play than we did."On what could have Matt Moore done differently in the sack he took before Shayne Graham's missed field goal:"Well the Monday Morning Quarterback says throw the thing away or any of those type of things. I can't fault Matt. I'm not playing the position. At one point when that happens if you're getting rushed like that you're making a split decision on whether or not you need to eat it and sometimes you got to do it because a bad thing can happen. All of a sudden the ball can come out. I think he ended up taking care of the football. It made the field goal a little longer but Shayne has done a nice job for us right now and certainly Shayne would tell you it's reachable. He hit the ball well it just didn't go in."On if he is surprised with so many penalties against Jake Long yesterday:"I mean I think the penalties obviously penalties happen during the course of the game. I'll say this about Jake Long...we're all going to really happen down the road here or you're going to all be really happy down the road here that Jake Long is here and he's a Miami Dolphin. We're lucky to have him. He's a tremendous football player. He's been playing really well. He had a couple penalties yesterday. He'll be hard on himself over that but he made a couple of really big plays yesterday too."On the offensive line containing DeMarcus Ware: "The guy he was playing against yesterday had one tackle. You take it for what it's worth. It don't have to be pretty. It ain't always pretty when you're in there and you're messing around with those kind of guys and you already know my opinion of a guy like DeMarcus. That's why I say we can talk about the penalties if we want to today. The guy played his tail off."On not missing a beat when Vernon Carey got injured: "Yeah Nate (Garner) as you guys know he comes in and he's really the jack of all trades. He did a really nice job of filling in there when Vernon went out. That was in the red area during that kind of deal, in the real red area. Nate did a good job filling in. I thought did some good things."On Brandon Marshall's touchdown catch: "I thought it was a heck of a catch, I really did. I said it after the game and then watching the film it validated it for me. It was just tracking the ball that way with the way the ball came out from Matt (Moore)'s hand there and Brandon having to find the ball for how long the penalty I felt like was going on. In other words I felt like this thing was going on for awhile. And I think it became a point where I'm beat and I need to do something here. That's the reason why it happened. But Brandon did a tremendous job of finding the football because if he doesn't find the football there and he doesn't score now you're down there and you're close but you have to play the downs out and anything can happen. A couple weeks ago I forget who it was against but they had to play the downs out and we stopped them. We held them to a field goal. That was critical. Our defense kept them out of the end zone. Finishing that play was a big play in that game."On how many opportunities did Daniel Thomas have in the red zone: "I don't really know. I felt really good about how Reggie (Bush) played yesterday in that ball game. I thought he ran hard. I thought he ran fast. I thought he made people miss. He had the one flip out there that where we gave him where he really for all intense purposes should have been a minus five-yard play and he turns it into a 13 yard gain. So Reggie made a couple big plays in the game for us. The one catch on the check down that he turns it into a huge play down there and makes a couple guys miss. And I just thought he got handled a couple straight dives. Just went and put his shoulder down and got four yards. I thought he ran the ball well and did some good things protection well too. We just kind of felt him making some plays and I think that's why it went a little bit more to Reggie than to Daniel (Thomas)."On your assessment of Matt Moore's play the last four games: "I think he's playing well. I really think that he's done a tremendous job along with his coaches of grasping the offense and really starting to feel comfortable back there. He's got a little bit of presence about him to slide in the pocket and the buy time, which obviously helps you and I think he's thrown the ball with great touch. The ball to (Davone) Bess in the middle of the field, the one-handed catch that ball gets up and down at the middle of the field. That's a really hard throw to make. And then he makes the throw to (Brian) Hartline on the sideline. He throws the underthrown fade to Hartline that he comes back and catches and the deep ball to Brandon (Marshall) so there's four different throws there that this guy made. He practices really hard. He practices with a good purposes and he's getting better."On what Brian Hartline has shown you over the past couple weeks: "A lot of the players on my team, most of the players on my team that's why the locker room is the way it is..are very unselfish. They really don't care who gets the credit at the end of this thing, but I'm not sure Brian Hartline isn't one of the most unselfish. In that he don't really care what his job description is. If you want me to run down on kickoff team, I'll run down on kickoff team. If you want me to play on punt team, I'll be a gunner on punt team if that what it takes. If you're going to throw me the ball, throw it to me. If you want me to block on the toss crack, I'll block on the toss crack. I'll block the big defensive end if you want. So I think the guy is unselfish and when his number is called more often than not, Brian ends up coming up pretty big. In that game yesterday, big stage like that I thought he made some big plays. And that's probably the most disappointing thing in the ball game for me is just the number of big plays made in that game yesterday both offensively and defensively and we just didn't come away with a win."On how many plays did each free safety play yesterday, Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons, and Tyrone Culver: "Obviously, I think Reshad (Jones) played the most plays. I really haven't had a chance to visit with the coaches yet and got through the play count accurately. But Reshad played the most, and then it was Ty (Tyrone Culver) and then Chris (Clemons)."On Clyde Gates progression on kickoffs: "Yeah, it's a big improvement. An encouraging thing about yesterdays game is again we keep talking about that stage, the environment, the type of game, those type of things and to see some of our young players handle that yesterday I thought was pretty good, really encouraging. Talking about Brian Hartline like he's a 10-year veteran, but he's a young player. Davone Bess, (Clyde) Gates seeing him catch the ball and to go like that before the end of the half that was a pretty big play for us did a really good job hitting it and that's where we've been working hard with him as far as making sure that he sees it clear and then he hits it. And then he came back made a nice play on our sideline on a comeback where he used his speed so he created some separation."On forcing Tony Romo to throw two interceptions early in the game: "Yeah, two quick ones and well played. Vontae (Davis) did a good job. He knew where his help was. He used his help well and kind of baited the throw and the ball got up in the air and Vontae knew he had help over the top and he came underneath it and made a good play. Sean (Smith) just came underneath it and took it. And it was a really good catch by Sean. So those were two big turnovers. Unfortunately, we didn't generate enough points off of them."On evaluating the rookie class up to this point: "I really think this rookie class has done pretty well. When you look top to bottom and you look at what we've asked these guys to do. I mean (Mike) Pouncey has obviously done a tremendous up till now. You start to look all the way down the line at what Daniel Thomas has brought to the team right now and what (Clyde) Gates has done and what (Charles) Clay has been able to start to do here as of late and his development and even a guy like Jimmy Wilson. I think the group as a whole has done a good job. I think it's a credit to them and a credit to the guys upstairs helping develop these young players."