Really hard to write this but former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has passed away at the age of 56. That’s not really any where near the age your typical person would consider old so obviously this is a tragedy and a shock to everyone. It’s being reported that this might of been caused by heart issues.

Absolutely awful for Tony’s wife to of been in this position. Just tragic.

Coach Sparano was currently the offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings and has been since 2016. Coach Sparano began his pro coaching career in 1999 and has been an assistant, offensive line, tight ends, interim head coach and was the head coach of the Dolphins from 2008-2011. He took over a Dolphins team that went 1-15 the year before and was trusting Chad Pennington to come in after what felt like his 5oth shoulder surgery. Naturally, the 2008 Dolphins teas wasn’t expected to do much, but then out of absolute no where this happened

Due to Miami not having much of a potent offense, Sparano turned to a formation that wasn’t used in decades called the Wildcat. The Wildcat was so fun with Ronnie Brown, Ricky Williams, Patrick Cobbs and Pennington and others showing the league that they can in fact be outsmarted for a small period. Not much was sweeter than that first game in week 3 against the Patriots on the road where the Wildcat was unveiled seeing Belichick scratching his head in bewilderment as Ronnie Brown took direct snap after direct snap, throwing TDs to Fasano and simply running all over them. That year, the Dolphins went from 1-15 to 11-5 and making the playoffs. One of the best turnarounds the league ever saw in one season. I always felt that Sparano never got enough credit for trusting his gut and sticking with the Wildcat as such a vital part of his offense even though all the analysts and Xs and Os guys thought it would never work more than a few games. It worked for a whole season and got a team into the playoffs. Yeah, Miami got trounced by the Ravens in the wildcard, but Miami made the playoffs, something they don’t do very often.

Sparano was ousted two years later after posting underwhelming seasons and was even subject to Stephen Ross flying to see if he could get Jim Harbaugh while Tony was still the coach of the Dolphins. That move was ridiculed by just about everyone, but it was just another day in the world of the Miami Dolphins.

I feel like Sparano was always thought of as a passionate coach but perhaps didn’t have great in-game management. I remember getting annoyed at certain decisions that were made by him in games. I always thought that Sparano was your classic football guy through and through. A guy that ate, slept and breathed football who also cared deeply about his players. He always seemed like a cool, regular guy who would really enjoy throwing some back and shoot the breeze. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family. RIP Tony Sparano.