The 2011 season was not exactly a season to remember for the New York Jets and many of their players and coaches.
A disappointing 8-8 season led to the Jets missing the postseason for the first time under coach Rex Ryan, and it led to some much-needed changes, personnel-wise and on the coaching staff.
Arguably one of the most impactful changes was the team parting ways with former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, replacing him with former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano.
Second-year quarterback Greg McElroy is certainly one player who’s looking forward to turning the page going into the 2012 season.
A seventh-round pick out of Alabama, McElroy played well in the preseason before breaking the thumb on his throwing hand and spending his entire rookie season on injured reserve.
He also made headlines in January when he spoke candidly about the Jets poor locker room chemistry, something that brought a lot of heat on him personally but also was a catalyst for change in that locker room as well.
As the third-string quarterback this season behind Mark Sanchez and new addition Tim Tebow, McElroy is excited to work out with his fellow quarterbacks, and for a new beginning under Tony Sparano.
McElroy did an informative Q&A session with the Star-Ledger’s Jenny Vrentas, who does an excellent job on the Jets beat.
The 24-year-old quarterback was asked what some of the differences are between Sparano’s system compared to Schottenheimer’s system, and McElroy, like many of his teammates, pointed to the simplicity of it.
“You can get in and out of the huddle faster,” he said. “I think a big part of what coach Sparano is wanting to do is increase tempo and run more plays, so maybe by having less words, then it really helps as far as getting out of the huddle. Last year, we might tag eight different routes, there’s six or seven different guys on things in the play call, where it would just get a little wordy at times. It’s just a lot easier getting in and out of the huddle and everybody knowing what to do.”
Although the actual verbiage of the play calls is simpler, that doesn’t mean that the plays themselves are lacking.
“We have just as many plays [as last year's playbook] if not more,” McElroy mentioned, “but as far as the amount of words that are said in the huddle, it is significantly less.”
Overly complicated and overly complex dynamics seemed to be a staple of Schottenheimer’s offense. Younger players were often confused, and even the most seasoned of veterans made mental errors with Schotty’s system.
It sounds as though, with Sparano, the players will be able to better understand their responsibilities and execute the plays better, something they’ve sorely needed on offense for a long time.
McElroy may not be a strong candidate to get on the field, at least in the regular season or any other game that counts, but his presence in the quarterbacks room is certainly a positive influence on his fellow QBs.
As far as the Jets getting ready for the 2012 season, McElroy used a word that his new teammate Tim Tebow used quite a few times in his introductory press conference a few months ago.
“I think everyone is excited,” McElroy said. “I think everyone is looking forward to getting out there, and everyone is working extremely hard. … I think we’ve improved a lot over the course of the spring training period, and I think we’re really looking forward to going into the fall and working really hard and having a great year.”