The Usual Suspect: A Brian Schottenheimer Story

Florham Park, N.J.- “This whole thing has turned political. The mayor was here last night. The chief. This morning the governor called, okay? I’m telling you this guy is protected from up on high by the Prince of Darkness.” Sgt. Jeffrey Rabin, “Usual Suspects

Substitute Mike Tannenbaum for the mayor, Rex Ryan as the chief and Woody Johnson as the governor and most Jets fans would say this quote could be directly tied into why Brian Schottenheimer is still the offensive coordinator of the Jets. Prince of Darkness might be a tad strong, but then again we’re talking about Jets fans, so maybe not.

Fans have wanted Schottenheimer out of here for years. Their disgust with the way the Jets offense has been handled during his time here has led them to one conclusion, management is protecting a member of their beloved coaching fraternity and doesn’t want to damage his reputation. Fans and critics however would argue he does a bang up job of that all by himself. It’s clear right now that the Jets are hesitantĀ to fire Schottenheimer, only to outsiders it’s not at all clear why.

If the, "Greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist," Jet fans might say keeping Schottenheimer employed with the Jets is number two on that list. (Jetsinsider.com Photo)

On Monday when Tannenbaum announced that Schottenheimer would be retained, beat writers from numerous other teams chimed in on Twitter, asking, “Really?” and ‘Why?” But with the news leaking earlier in the day that the Jacksonville Jaguars would interview Schottenheimer for their vacant head coaching position, everyone around the Jets knew he wouldn’t get fired. Not when they have a chance to get rid of him and all the money they owe him without any blood on their hands.

And for those who doubt that anyone would hire Schottenheimer, take a look at the other candidates the Jaguars are going after. Not exactly working the top of the pecking order, because let’s face it Jacksonville is no NFL coaches’ dream job.

If the Jets get lucky enough to be free of Schottenheimer’s contract and play-calling then they will happily move on, but the question becomes what will they do if he doesn’t get the job? Do they bring him back and honor the contract? Or do they throw their hands up and say they’ve done enough to help him, now it’s time to move on?

Over the last couple of days the focus has been on Santonio Holmes and his obviously fractured relationship with Schottenheimer, but it’s oh so much deeper than that. Thanks to Derrick Mason we all are aware that Holmes, Burress and Mason had all voiced their concerns with the way the offense is run to Rex Ryan. That Mason made that information public is the reason he was sent packing, but that did nothing to solve the problem of players not buying into the system.

Over the past two seasons opposing players have called the offense was incredibly predictable, ex-players like David Clowney would tweet about how they could call out every play before the snap even though he hadn’t been with the team in over a year and Eric Mangini, now a commentator on ESPN, has said the same and he hasn’t been here in three years now. Even LT, who had some of his most successful seasons with Schottenheimer calling the plays in San Diego, called the Jets offense too predictable this season.

You know that old Chris Rock bit about OJ Simpson? The one where he says, “I’m not saying he should of killed her… but I understand.” Well considering everything above, I’m not saying Holmes should have quit and pouted on this team, but you can at least understand where his frustration comes from.

Take a look around the NFL and watch how other teams adjust their schemes based on the talent they have and now consider how amazingly similar the Jets offense has been with Chad Pennington, Brett Favre and Mark Sanchez. Is it any wonder why this offense faces the same problems year, after year? What did Albert Einstein say the definition of insanity was again?

I have a theory about why Sanchez and the Jets were so successful in the Red Zone this year, it’s because they essentially played like they were in the Red Zone the entire game and whenever they could successfully navigate down fieldĀ Sanchez was in a rhythm and could put points on the board. They didn’t get to the Red Zone enough because it’s very hard to move the ball down field when defense don’t have to defend more than 15 yards at a time. With the rest of the league throwing the football like it’s a Nerf ball in a backyard pick up game the Jets only attempted 39 passes of over 20 yards all season, when teams know you won’t throw it down field it makes it easy for them. Just keep everything in front of you, make stops, then take your chances and start jumping those short routes. Hell even check down routes were being jumped by the end of the season.

Against suspect secondaries such as the Patriots and Giants, the Jets still refused to take shots down field, yes the offensive line gave the receivers little time to get open, but shots still have to be taken to loosen up the defense. And maybe worst of all is the way this team seemed to completely abandon the running game whether it was working or not. Yes the running game is not what it once was, but in a close game against the Giants where you are gaining 4.2 yards per carry you might want a better run/drop back ratio than 25 to 67.

Between the bafflingly inept play-calling and the constant stream of complaints from subordinates it would seem impossible for the Jets to bring Schottenheimer back, not unless they plan on getting an entire new batch of receivers outside of Jeremy Kerley and Patrick Turner and how much will that set you back? Another year with Sanchez having to adjust to a whole new receiver core? And what would make anyone think other receivers would be happy dealing with these same problems?

Unless something magical happens and the Jets can get Peyton Manning, Sanchez will be the quarterback next year. The Jets simply have too much invested in him for that not to be the case. There are legit concerns about Sanchez and a strong case could be made that the Jets offense isn’t explosive because of Sanchez, not Schottenheimer. But why must it be only one or the other? Can’t it be both? And how will we ever know if we don’t see him in another system, one tailored to his game?

No one can know for sure if another coordinator can make Sanchez a better, more efficient player, but what we do know is it’s not working in this system. It’s time to move on, whether Schottenheimer has to be fired or not. The Jets are likely stuck with Holmes for another year and definitely with Sanchez, scrap the system and develop a new one around Sanchez and if he doesn’t show improvement then you can move on and we will all have our answer.

For now we have to sit and wait, if the Jaguars name a new coach and it isn’t Schottenheimer and three or four days go by without the Jets announcing Schottenheimer is fired, then be afraid Jets fans. Be very afraid. If somehow Schottenheimer does stay on to coach this offense next season, expect more of the same and we will have our answer to this as well, he really is, “protected from up on high by the Prince of Darkness.”

Until then Jet fans just want to hear, “And like that. *Poof* he’s gone.

7 Responses to “The Usual Suspect: A Brian Schottenheimer Story”

  1. MattP Says:

    Excellent article.

  2. Baddniss Says:

    Agreed 100%.
    If you think hard, the Jets FO is handling this problem correctly right now. Be patient & let Schotty try to get the Jag or Raider HC job. Give him a month or so. There will be 5 new HC’s named in the next 30 days. Be patient!
    Keep Sanchez & Holmes & Plax.
    Just get a proven new OC that can really establish a “co-ordinated” offense (Mike Martz?) and things will be fine…
    Fellow Jetfans, stop panicking!

  3. g-bean Says:

    I totally agree! Let’s hope Schotty moves on.
    I do think there is a slight chance that Sanchez could be better with someone other than Schottenheimer, but really, the Jet fans deserve a fantastic, explosive team and quarterback.
    Baddniss is right, if we get a new OC things will be fine

  4. Jets west Says:

    I have been saying this to anyone who would listen for 2 years, but more so after week 7. Its ridiculous to not have Holmes in the top 10 of one receiving category for what he’s being paid and what he can do. When we’ve seen Sanchez at his best is running the 2 min drill…long or short passes, no huddle…less Schotty…getter Sanchez. We’ve also seen him extend plays…again taking Schotty out of the equation. I truly think Callahans blocking schemes and great Oline kept him around this long. We see offenses change as defenses adjust…not Schotty. A cover 2, for or sink absolutely kills 85% of the guys passing playbook…but does he change? Come on. The Pennington. FArve, Sanchez offense is such a glaring failure passing the ball it’s laughable. Telegraphing the plays makes it all that much worse. This kind of exposure alone should get him fired…they know what you are calling? How the hell is Sanchez going to look 1/2 way decent when the Oline is that much worse and We have one running back who’s not an edge guy? I like Sanchez. Maybe it’s the 4 road playoff ballsy games. Maybe its the overtime victories or the numerous 4th quarter come backs. I do know hes got the stuff you can not teach, he just seems to only have it in desperation. I’d like to think a real coach, intent on fixing that, could. If I ever failed as much as Schotty has, statistically, I’d have been fired from every job I ever had, even faster if I seemed to be damaging very expensive “tools”- I won’t watch another game with him coaching the Jets offense. I tried to stop after week 7…but now I’m waiting for that press release…the green is put away.

  5. Ankeny Jet Says:

    This is a great article. It is incredible to me how many people can see the issue is Schotty. I wonder how large his contract is that they won’t just pay him off and move on?

  6. Corey P Says:

    This article was dead on. I’ve been saying all this same stuff since Brett Farve was here.

    Towards the end of the season (last 6 games or so), we barely attempted 1 pass over 20 yards a game. Defenses crept up and jumped our routes and flustered Sanchez. Schotty’s playcalling was SO predictable. My wife doesn’t even watch much football other than Jets games and she was calling out plays by the end of the season.

    The Jets made a HUMONGOUS mistake not firing Schotty directly after the season. Keeping Schotty is not an option… It’s not. If they do I’m done supporting this corrupt organization. I feel bad for the players that got stuck behind that moron coordinator and this corrupt staff that costed them tons of money. Fire Schotty!

  7. Nick Says:

    Running on emotion is no way to make a case for firing someone. Where are the stats to back it up? Regardless of the OC and QB, the Jets would have struggled with the poor offensive line and even worse run defense. Look at the numbers they put up. Mediocre at best. The coordinators can only do so much. If the playcalling is predictable, then lets look at why it was predictable.

    The Jets offense has not been intended to carry the team. The defense is suppose to play aggressive and the offense is suppose to play conservative. The Jets went into every game with this expectation. Unfortunately, the defense gave up too many points and couldn’t get off the field enough to give the offense a chance.

    Maybe this needs to change and switching coordinators could help, but personnel and performance are factors too. We desperately need offensive line depth, runstuffers at linebacker, and an elite safety.

    Hunter, Ferguson, and Slauson could improve next season so I’m certain a starter is necessary, but depth issues were prominent when Mangold went down. Turner will return next year and Ducasse is slowly learning (and did well in jumbo formations) so interior might not be a huge concern, but it certainly could use help. Ferguson and Hunter gave up the most sacks for the team. Adding another tackle with potential could be the push they need to improve, but the film needs to be reviewed to see if the OC, QB, or tackle is to blame for the poor numbers.

    At linebacker, Bryan Thomas was lost of the season and the Jets lacked a runstuffing outside linebacker to replace him. Two passrushing specialists, Jamaal Westerman and Aaron Maybin, did their best but they aren’t cut out to be on the field every down. It turns out neither were the other Jets LBs. McIntyre, Mauga, and Bellore were out of position, too slow, or just ineffective in both run and pass defense to make a difference. Bart Scott and Calvin Pace both had an off year, as well.

    Lastly, safety position is a big need. Eric Smith is a Rex Ryan favorite, but he is just not talented enough to start for the Jet defense. I see Poole as a better player, but it would be much better to acquire an elite safety to couple with Jim Leonard’s savviness. Look at the defense when Rex first took over. Kerry Rhodes was at the top of his game and the defense was lights out. Smith and Poole are good players, but to play opposite Jim Leonard the Jets need elite talent.

    It just comes down to the fact that the Jets did not have a playoff caliber team this season. Injuries, 3 road games in a row, and Tim Tebow just made it more obvious.

    All this in-team bickering has not helped either. Derrick Mason has a history of being a whiner. Holmes needs to grow up. He was named captain to help facilitate that, but it turns out that (and his large contract) may have been a mistake.

    As for Sanchez, he is a leader. He holds his own mini-camp for the offense in the off season. Not his fault the diva wideouts are too cool to show or participate. Talent-wise, he is good enough to win. He runs hot and cold and needs help from the running game to get him in rhythm. He made some bonehead plays, but it is only his third season. He did well this year, but of course, he is not Tom Brady, so he has a ceiling. Think Vinny Testeverde. When he played mistake free ball, he was a Pro Bowler. Sanchez can get there.