Sparano in, Schottenheimer out for Jets

Former Miami Dolphins' head coach Tony Sparano looks on during the Dolphins' 20-17 loss to the New...

Former Miami Dolphins' head coach Tony Sparano looks on during the Dolphins' 20-17 loss to the New York Giants at their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey in this October 30, 2011 file photo. (REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files)

Bill Lankhof QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:01 PM ET

Mike Mularkey became the third head coach in Jacksonville Jaguars’ history Wednesday, while in New York, Tony Sparano takes over a tradition of mularkey.

It’s difficult to figure out who the winner is in the latest game of musical chairs being played by the NFL coaching fraternity.

As Mularkey is welcomed in Jacksonville, they’re happy to see the back of him in Atlanta.

The Jets are welcoming Dolphins’ scapegoat, Sparano, while putting the horns of their own dilemma on Brian Schottenheimer. Nobody was cheering harder for Schottenheimer to get the job in Jacksonville than, it turns out, his own bosses with the Jets.

In the end, the greatest benefactor of all the changes might not be a coach at all. Perhaps it ends up being Mark Sanchez, the most over-publicized under-achieving quarterback east of the Mississippi. The New York Jets are betting what little credibility management still has and a $3-million buyout of Schottenheimer’s contract, on it.

Schottenheimer has been the scapegoat for Sanchez’s and the Jets’ problems. The club has publicly always endorsed its offensive co-ordinator. Now, it turns out, it was secretly hoping he would scram.

Nobody was cheering more fervently when he interviewed for the head coaching job in Jacksonville, apparently, than the Jets. Talk about dysfunctional family.

Late Tuesday night, the Jaguars announced they had signed Mularkey, who had been the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, as their new head coach.

Subsequently, the Jets announced Schottenheimer’s, uhhhhhm, “resignation”. This really, according to league sources, is just the polite way of saying he was told not to bother coming back to the office. Wednesday the club hired Tony Sparano to fix all that ails Sanchez.

While the Jets came close to winning Super Bowls in 2009 and 2010 the offence was always under scrutiny. Sanchez finished his rookie year with 20 interceptions and only 12 passing touchdowns. The following season Sanchez improved a bit with 13 interceptions and 17 touchdowns. Now in the third season, Schottenheimer was blamed for Sanchez lack of progress and an offence that ranked 25th in the league.

Then, in the season finale, Schottenheimer benched wide receiver Santonio Holmes after he precipitated an argument in the huddle.

Publicly, Schottenheimer has always been faulted, with the club even bringing in offensive guru Tom Moore as a consultant. Guess head coach Rex Ryan figured he better jump on the Blame Brian Bandwagon before it ran him over, too.

Sparano, fired as the Dolphins head coach recently, now will try to get the franchise quarterback back on track, and there are reports former Kansas City coach Todd Haley will join him on Ryan’s staff.

It’s not known where Schottenheimer will end up, although with the Bucs interviewing his father for the head coach position, speculation is both might end up in Tampa. Or, the Schottenheimer’s could just retire to a lounge chair for a while and enjoy all the lovely money rolling in from the Jets.

Meantime, reports suggest that had Mularkey not gotten the job in Jacksonville that he’d be just one sugar daddy short of being in a similar position to Schottenheimer today. After watching their supposedly-improved offence shut down by the Giants, Mularkey’s time in Atlanta was done. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said that while the team had a lot of regular-season success under Mularkey, management felt the coaching staff had gone stale.

WEEDIN’ OUT PROSPECTS

While juniors Andrew Luck and Robert Griffen III will headline the NFL draft, there are some other interesting prospects. Six quarterbacks have been invited to the Senior Bowl: Boise State’s Kellen Moore, San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson, Arizona’s Nick Foles and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden.

Weeden may be a sleeper pick. He’s already 28 because he spent five years playing minor league baseball before starting his college football career. He has an NFL-calibre arm and completed 69.5% of his passes. The only drawback may be his age. There is a precedent though. Chris Weinke was also drafted at age 28 and went on to become a starter with Carolina.

IT’S A STALEMATE

The irresistable force meets the immovable object.

That’s what the NFC showdown has come to between Aaron Rodgers Packers and the Giants’ defence.

Antrel Rolle has promised that the improved Giants’ defence won’t give up 38 points again to the Packers.

For starters, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck played hurt in the last meeting and cornerback Aaron Ross was cleared Wednesday to return to practice after passing post-concussion tests.

Green Bay had a full roster practicing Wednesday, including running back James Starks and receiver Greg Jennings.

QUICK HITS

The Colts have hired Eagles director of player personnel Ryan Grigson as their next GM ... Saints SS Roman Harper is dealing with a “significant” ankle injury. Harper, a solid run-support player, would be severely missed against the run-first 49ers ... Chargers offensive coordinator Clarence Shelmon, who in his 37 years as a coach worked with players such as Emmitt Smith and LaDainian Tomlinson, won’t return for an eleventh season in San Diego ... Saints offensive line coach and running game coordinator Aaron Kromer is interviewing for the Rams’ head coaching position, as well as Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. That seems to indicate Jeff Fisher is leaning towards taking the head job in Miami.


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