In a conference call with the New York media today, Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer explained that he has not spoken with Favre since the season ended, but he would “welcome the opportunity” to coach Favre next year.
“As of now, we are going to focus on what we do well, what can we improve and what do we truly want the product on the field to look like,” Schottenheimer said.”
With wide receivers coach Henry Ellard and running backs coach Anthony Lynn new additions to Rex Ryan’s coaching staff, Schottenheimer said that he will join the coaches to determine an “identity” for the team’s offense. Ryan previously said that the Jets would feature an “all-weather offense,” based around a hard-nosed rushing attack. Quarterback Brett Favre has given the team little indication on whether he will return to the team this season, but Schottenheimer suggested that the offensive plan can be adjusted.
“You have to have a starting point and that is our starting point in where we want to get to, starting this week,” Schottenheimer said.
Schottenheimer was also pressed about the Favre’s collapse last season, in which he tossed nine interceptions and just two touchdowns in the final five games (1-4 record). While Schottenheimer said that some of Favre’s mistakes were due to “bad reads and bad decisions,” he also took some of the blame by suggesting “design flaws” in the offense.
Favre joined the Jets in early August, leaving the future Hall of famer and the coaching staff just three weeks to devise an offensive system. A flurry of ideas were exchanged, but Schottenheimer explained today that there was “a lot of sharing of ideas.”
“We started and went back to the early installation and said, ‘What are you comfortable with? What do you like? What have you run?’ There was a lot of sharing of ideas. Brett at no point ever [said] ‘hey I only want to run this, or I only want to do this, or I only want to call that.’ It really was give and take,” Schottenheimer said.
The Jets’ offensive coordinator suggsted that the Jets “hit their groove” after their victory over the previously undefeated Titans bumped them up to 8-3 on the season, but that groove “dried up.” While he theorized that the offense’s late season struggle could have been due to opponents catching on to the Jets’ smaller offensive package, he expressed that lack of execution derailed the unit.
As for quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff, Schottenheimer delivered positive reviews on each.
“I think both of those guys have some upside. I love the fact that they have been in the system and that does help because they can kind of read your mind. You can spend more time coaching them on fundamentals and things that might help them reach a new level in terms of footwork and accuracy because you don’t have to spend quite as much time teaching a system to those guys,” he said.
Here are some of Schottenheimer’s other comments….
On how disappointed he was to not get the job…
It was obviously very disappointing. The people here should be disappointed if I wasn’t disappointed. When you look at the disappointment as something that I was (not) hoping would happen, but at that point, once the decision has been made, you say, ‘this is what the business is about. There are decisions that are made. This business is about change. What is in the best interests of my family? What is in the best interests of my career?’ As I sat back and took the disappointment out of it, my family and I feel very comfortable here in the New York area. I feel very good about the product that we put on the field. I like the fact that we have things in place here. Once Rex and I got a chance to visit, he shed some light on how he dealt with it. That was really helpful. I really respect and appreciate that Rex took the time to visit with me about his disappointment the year before in Baltimore.
On whether he ever considered not returning to the Jets after not being named head coach…
I didn’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about it. I know there was speculation about where I might go. The most important thing for me was figuring out if I wanted to be a part of the Jets. I was still under contract. At the end of the day, after the smoke cleared, I really felt like this was the best place for me.
On whether he feels he will have complete autonomy to run the offense…
I wouldn’t say complete autonomy. The thing Rex and I talked about was that he has the confidence in what he believes we can do. The fact that things are in place on the offensive side of the ball, not that we achieved what we wanted to achieve. He’s the head coach of this football team. He is going to have some great insight for us on the offensive side of the ball. He’s clearly going to be involved. I want it that way. I appreciate it and respect the fact that he has the confidence in us to take the lead. I wouldn’t say that we will have full authority to do whatever we want. That’s not what I would want. He can give us a lot of great insight in what the defenses are thinking and how they’re trying to defend us.
On whether he sensed there was a lack of chemistry between Favre and his teammates…
I never got that sense. The way the offensive guys worked, prepared and interacted in the meetings was very professional and also light and loose. I never got that sense. If asked about that, I would not have thought anything other than what I witnessed.
On whether Leon Washington had enough touches on offense in 2008…
When we look at the game plan we have a number of good players and unfortunately until the league changes the rules we only get one ball. Each week, we had plays for Leon. One of the things we tried to do in the last game of the year, against Miami, was to get Leon the ball. Leon plays a unique position. It’s not like Thomas (Jones) because Leon plays tailback, he plays in the slot, he plays fullback. He plays all over the place and that is a benefit in terms of moving him around and finding mismatches, but sometimes when you put him out in space you can’t guarantee that you are going to get him the ball. There are a lot of things where we design where he’s the first look, but teams can take him away by putting a certain player over the top of him. Believe me, when Leon touches the ball good things usually happen. Myself, Bill Callahan and the offensive staff are committed to giving the ball to Leon. What you hopefully have is balance. Unfortunately, if we are not able to get the ball to Leon or Dustin Keller hopefully what that means is that the offensive line and Thomas are doing a great job with the running game and that maybe we can get a couple big plays with Jerricho (Cotchery) and Laveranues (Coles) off of run fakes. Not for one second do we want to limit his touches at all. It’s just he plays a unique position because he’s so multi-dimensional that you can’t always guarantee the ball gets in his hands.
On whether he has given any thought to players he wants back next year…
To be honest, I haven’t given it a lot of thought. Right now, I am trying to walk around the building and say hello to people I don’t recognize with some of the new (coaches) we have brought in. We are going to have our personnel meetings. We are going to get on top of it. A number of those guys are very good football players and after we go through the process, there will be guys we would like to have back that are still good players.
On whether David Clowney could be used as a deep outside receiver…
Yes, I think so. I think if you go back, the one play that sticks out in my mind is one that we had him on an inside fade route against Seattle up the boundary on Marcus Trufant. He got on top of him and Brett under threw it a little bit. David is a guy that when you are at practice and, even if you are not watching him, you feel his speed. You know when he is around because he is so fast and I think that is a great attribute for any player being at running back, receiver or cornerback.
On whether he would recommend to Mike Tannenbaum that they get a veteran quarterback if Brett Favre does not return…
At this point, I think we are going to do our homework on all the possibilities. We have a good sense of what we have with the guys here. Hopefully, a decision will be made once Brett, Mike and Rex have a conversation. We will look at what else is out there. Believe me, it’s not just the quarterback position. We look at all options at every position on the offensive side whether it’s to retain guys, to keep guys or to upgrade either through free agency, the draft or even guys that are in-house. That process will be on-going.