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Sparano brings the Dolphins back from oblivion

Sparano brings the Dolphins back from oblivion

When Tony Sparano took over at the Miami Dolphins, there were more than a few observers who saw him as little more than Bill Parcells' puppet, but in less than 12 months he has become the symbol of the rebirth of a team.
Miami are in the playoffs for the first time since the 2001 season - a remarkable turnaround after they managed just one win last season and even more remarkable given this is Sparano's first season as a head coach.
Two-times Super Bowl winning coach Parcells, who in his role as head of football operations at Miami, appointed the 47-year-old Sparano and kept his promise to keep out of sight and work behind the scenes.
The result has been that his coach has gained the credit he deserves.
The pair worked together at Dallas along with the Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and several members of the Miami coaching staff. Together they brought in around 40 new players to Miami.
While the contacts and expertise of Parcells and Ireland were essential to Miami's free agency and draft strategy, it has been Sparano, with two decades of coaching experience albeit never as a head coach, who has successfully gelled a collection of off-casts into an AFC East divisional winning team.
"It was a little bit tough because we had people coming in from all over the place," he said on Monday.
"We brought so many new people. Sometimes these guys were sitting in the locker room and the guy sitting next to them wasn't there two days ago.
"The nice thing about it are the people that were here last year have welcomed the new people, and they more importantly, have adapted to our philosophy."
Sparano is a true 'football guy' - his Monday press conferences start with a ritual question about how much sleep he managed to get after Sunday's game - the answer is invariably 'not a lot' as he sat up watching the film of the game deep into the night.
Quarterback Chad Pennington recently referred to the Dolphins as a 'hard-working, blue collar team' and the coach fits that image - rarely seen in a suit, he prefers his trademark oversized sweats and ever-present baseball cap.
The common approach of Sparano and Pennington, the New York Jets reject who had the last laugh with Sunday's 24-17 win over his former team, has been central to Miami's return as the coach acknowledged.
"He's vital to this team, he really is. Chad came in here and brought a bunch of people together... His work ethic is pretty contagious....they're following his lead a little bit and that's a pretty good lead to follow," he said.
Sparano has motivated his players, partially, through reminding them how often they have been written off but as the team prepare for Sunday's playoff with the Baltimore Ravens, he conceded that the underdog tag is now dated.


Updated : 2021-04-17 11:29 GMT+08:00