The League

Mark Maske
Staff Writer

Mark Maske

Writes the NFL News Feed blog

Sparano In Jeopardy

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Of the four rookie head coaches in the league, the guy who seems headed nowhere to me, at the moment, appears to be Tony Sparano in Miami.

Yes, I know he has great front office support there because Bill Parcells, the Dolphins' front office czar, and Jeff Ireland, the general manager, brought him along from Dallas. And I know he was well regarded by other teams as a head coaching candidate as well. But a head coach doesn't always fail simply because he can't coach. He also can fail because things just never get headed in the right direction. I didn't quite understand the Dolphins' rebuilding plan. They traded away Jason Taylor, probably their best player. That, to me, signaled it was a total rebuilding program, starting over from scratch. But then they signed a veteran quarterback in Chad Pennington. That, to me, signaled it wasn't a total rebuilding program. So which is it? The in-between approach is difficult to make work, and Sparano could end up suffering the consequences.

Before the season, there were big questions about Mike Smith in Atlanta, John Harbaugh in Baltimore and Jim Zorn here in Washington. Smith's hiring by the Falcons had many people in the league wondering if he was qualified to be a head coach. Harbaugh mostly had been a special teams coach in Philadelphia. Zorn hadn't even been an offensive coordinator.

But the early signs are positive for all three. Smith has worked Michael Turner and Matt Ryan into the lineup and the Falcons are much more competitive. Harbaugh got the Ravens off to a good start with a rookie starting quarterback in Joe Flacco. They won their first two games and took the Steelers into overtime Monday night in a rugged game in Pittsburgh. Zorn has the Redskins looking like one of the league's better teams after rebounding from an ugly opening loss to the Giants. He tweaked his offense to better suit the skills of quarterback Jason Campbell and now has a victory in Dallas to endear him to Redskins followers.

Things could change. Scott Linehan went a respectable 8-8 in his first season in St. Louis before losing 17 of 20 games after that and getting fired Monday. But for now, it looks like Sparano's task is the toughest.

By Mark Maske  |  September 30, 2008; 9:34 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Ask Jason Campbell | Next: Three and Out Coaching

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I disagree that a total rebuild is not evident with a vet QB. To me a vet QB is necessary for a total rebuild, as it gives your QB of the future a year or two on the bench and buys time to build the offense you want to have around him.

Posted by: Alex35332 | October 1, 2008 7:00 AM

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