Tony Sparano, Gutless Coaching 101

11 May

The Miami Dolphins went for it on 4th down ten times last season. That may sound like a respectable number, but it was good for 28th in the NFL.

A look at the specific situations reveals that eight of those attempts were absolutely necessary, during desperation time. The ninth attempt? A 4th and 1 against Detroit, the week we had been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

Which leaves us with one glorious attempt, in the 3rd quarter against Green Bay. Again, another 4th and 1 (if we needed more than 36″ on 4th down, Tony kicked it 100% of the time). Of course “The Mad Fistpumper” followed this bold move by refusing to attempt the game winning Hail Mary at the end of regulation, apparently out of fear that Charles Woodson would intercept it, emerge from a ten player pileup, then scamper 104 yards for the winning score.

No coach in the NFL allowed more drives to stall than Tony. Dan Carpenter led the NFL with eight attempts from 50+. Carpenter also led the league with 18 attempts from 40-49 yards. He completed the triple play by leading the league with 41 tries overall (the most attempts by a team in five seasons). Over forty times we reached enemy territory and folded without a six-pointer.

In our opinion Sparano hasn’t earned his place on the hot seat (we think it’s still plenty hot, despite the extension) simply by losing. He’s also become the poster boy for not playing to win.

Perhaps the recent staff overhaul will include a bigger set of cojones for Tony? 

GO DOLPHINS, and feel free to follow us on Twitter @thebottlenose


7 Responses to “Tony Sparano, Gutless Coaching 101”

  1. faversham May 11, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    Arguably worst, most unprepared, unqualified coach in the NFL — just like Wannstedt was Johnson’s coffee boy, Sparano was Parcells’. Same result, same moustache even.

    • Jackson May 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

      Dude, your comment makes me wonder if you’ve ever been accountable for anything big before. This coaching staff was prepared enough to win a diviion crown in its first year–In a division that fields 2 playoff teams most of the time. Yes, they were painfully predictable and gutless more often than not last year, but you gotta cut people some slack and givethem a chance to learn. If the same problems aremn’t corrected next year the Sparano clan will pay the price. Until then, support your fins.

    • Dan Ewen May 11, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

      In fairness to Wannstedt, he had winning seasons in four of his five years with the Dolphins. I’m actually surprised by that, since he’s become such a ridiculed coach.

      And I hear you Jackson with the support your team thing. I will never root against the Dolphins come gameday, but in my opinion it’s fair game to discuss the performance of players and coaches. The same way we can love our country while criticizing the government.


      • Jackson May 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm #


        It is certainly fair to discuss the performance of players and coaches. And I certainly agree that the Fins were barely watchable a lot of the time, and that Sparano made his share of bonehead calls.

        But what I was reacting to TS being labeled Parcells’ coffee boy and “Arguably [the] worst, most unprepared, unqualified coach in the NFL — just like Wannstedt…Same result, same moustache even.” This is an asinine statement, not a discussion to be defended.

        For one, Wanny’s lopsider was waaaaay more annoying. For two, it is taking potshots at a hardworking beginner coach, who is trying to patch some leaks on the putrid team he inherited. We drafted 15. This (arguably) suggests that about half the league was less prepared than we were. I may be seeing the glass as half full, but we beat the Stealers (robbed), and Green Bay, and were competitive in all non-Patriots games. How far can we expect to go when we don’t have enough healthy draft picks to replace guys like Crowder and McQuistan?

        Sparano may wear glasses and ride the little bus to work with Faversham. However, he’s also a numbers guy, and undoubtedly knows HE left the wolf starving on the field last year. Give the man and our young team some space to work.

      • Dan Ewen May 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm #


        I would be more than glad to see Sparano put it all together. There are only a few holes on this team, but I fear that one of them is quarterback, which is of course the hardest to fill.

        A few key moves in the offseason and we could be very tough this fall. But I also think a change in Tony’s core decision-making may be needed to catch the riverboat gamblers at the top of our division.

        Thanks for your comments, and as always, GO DOLPHINS!!!

  2. Fintasy May 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    Excellent analysis. I also remember the Dolphins constantly throwing checkdown passes when we were in desperation situations with only seconds remaining and down by 2 scores.

    • Dan Ewen May 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

      Thanks, Fintasy. I appreciate that, and your visit to The Bottlenose.

      And yes, by and large our two-minute offense was an absolute joke last season. The whole squad looked lost in crunch time, and Sparano/Daboll better have them ready to perform under pressure this year. Those games are usually the difference between the playoffs and the top half of the draft.

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