The Schottenheimer Problem
Florham Park, N.J.- I should start this article off by explaining that I am normally not one to blame all of the problems of a struggling offense on the offensive coordinator. I’m a big subscriber in the belief that the players on the field are usually the ones to blame for a struggling offense and there’s no escaping this reality as a part of the reason this particular Jets offense continues to have problems.
The offensive line has been a disaster so far this year, which has led to a poor rushing attack and little time to allow Sanchez to throw the ball more than five-yards down the field. And Sanchez himself still needs to become more consistent and avoid momentum killing turnovers, but there was a particular quote from Brian Schottenheimer that struck me as rather disturbing.
I wasn’t able to attend practice on Thursday, for personal reasons you could care less about, and I didn’t get around to looking at the transcript from Schottenheimer’s Thursday press conference until last night. I knew about Santonio Holmes comments pointing out the failure of the coaching staff to recognize the adjustments the Raiders defense made and subsequent failure to properly adjust the offensive game plan accordingly. I also agreed with him before he even said that quote. I wrote about it earlier in the week, the Jets expected the Raiders to play mostly man-to-man coverage, but instead they backed off into zone coverage and as much as I was praising Schottenheimer after the first half because of the brilliant use of the bootlegs and rollouts, I was equally critical of him as I noticed the Raiders had made the adjustment to be ready for the rollouts. All this happened while Schottenheimer appeared to not be paying any attention to the way the game was unfolding. Then as my eyes were scrolling through the words that made up the transcript I saw a combination of words that loosely translates into Schottenheimer all but admitting he wasn’t paying enough attention.
“Once we got up on them, they started playing a lot of zone. We had hit kind of a stale spot.” Schottenheimer said, “There were clearly some things that I wish we probably would’ve recognized as a staff quicker.”
That last sentence is just a tad bit disturbing. It’s one thing to call a wrong play here or there, but with an offense with this much talent and expectations it’s inexcusable that the offensive coordinator and his staff couldn’t see what everyone else watching the game had already seen. The Raiders were ready for everything the Jets weren’t doing. Everyone at the game noticed it, the announcers, everyone watching from home and obviously Holmes noticed it, since he was so fired up about it. So how did Schottenheimer fail to recognize what was so clear to everyone else?
And if that wasn’t enough, LT chimed in as well, bringing up another disturbing and familiar topic from last season. LT told ESPN’s Rich Cimini, “I think people have scouted us well. There are different plays where they may know the depth of the running back and they’ll know, ‘Okay, this is what’s coming.’ We’ve heard that from people.”
Sound familiar? It does to me, it’s the same thing players told Jetsinsider last season after many of the games. Specifically I remember Jet players saying the other team told them after the game that they knew exactly what plays were being called by the way the Jets lined up. The Packers said it, the Patriots said it after the 45-3 beat down and the Ravens said it after the season opener.
“Some opponents have told us that,” LT further explained to Cimini. “When you talk to guys around the league after the game, like, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ They’re like, ‘We were looking at your guys’ depth. When you’re deep, it’s a run. When you’re close, it’s a pass.’ Certain things like that. Defenses, they pick up on that stuff.”
Yeah I’d say defenses pick up on that stuff, but the question remains. Since this is nothing new, teams have been telling players this since at least last season, why hasn’t Schottenheimer, you know, actually done something about this?
If the offense is predictable to the point where opposing defenses can tell whether it’s a run play or pass play, shouldn’t some tweaking to the way players line up be done? And shouldn’t someone on the staff be able to recognize if opposing defenses are in man-to-man or zone coverage before the rest of the world figures it out?
Again I want to be clear, this is not an article absolving everyone other than Schottenheimer of their sins against production. This is simply an article to question how things like this can continue to be a problem without being fixed. There is still plenty of blame to spread around, but at what point does it become too much?
The good news for the Jets and their fans is last season I wrote an article where I was very critical of Schottenheimer after the week 14 10-6 loss to the Dolphins where the offense looked like it was trying to set a new standard for ineptitude. The very following week, Schottenheimer responded by calling one of his best games ever as Jets coordinator, causing me to write an article called, “The Schottenheimer Redemption.”
It’s your move Schotty, either keep doing what you’re doing until Jets management realizes they can’t win that way, or make me reverse course and eat these very words of criticism. Whatever it is you do though, leave the Wildcat portion of the playbook at home, or better yet in a dumpster somewhere.