Jets Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer: Should He Stay or Should He Go?

Before last week’s game against the New England Patriots, it was reported that the ‘Big 3’ of the Jets’ receiving corps, Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and the now traded-to-Houston-for-a-draft-pick Derrick Mason, each went separately into Rex Ryan’s office to complain about offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s plan.

After the humiliating loss to the Ravens, Holmes not so discreetly criticized the play calling publically, saying, “We got to do a better job of running the football. That will be the key to jump-starting our offense... We definitely have to focus more on what we have to do running the ball and get the ball in the hands of the playmakers. Give our guy a little bit of time so he can deliver the ball to the guys that can make plays for us.”

Mason was quoted as saying, "Obviously, there's things that have to change. There's some cracks. And don't nobody really want to identify the cracks. Until we identify the cracks, we're going to keep having the same problems. Whenever somebody wants to seal up the cracks, then we'll continue to move forward as an offense."

Schottenheimer took a lot of heat for not adjusting to the Ravens defense on the fly and for not doing anything to protect quarterback Mark Sanchez, who was at the mercy of the failing offensive line. Schottenheimer later accepted responsibility for the game.

[caption id="attachment_221" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer calls plays for the Jets. photo by Andrew Mills, The Star-Ledger."][/caption]

"We were really just kind of struggling, calling bad plays and not executing as clean as we need to do,” he said. "I take responsibility for that … I think there have been cracks throughout certain times of our play."

The Jets, of course, denied the report that Holmes, Burress, and Mason all went to Ryan’s office. But after the offense then failed to impress against a porous New England defense, the complaints about Schottenheimer, who has been with the Jets since 2006, are getting louder again after being quieted for the last two seasons.

Before the New England game, the offense was tied for 24th in the league on third down efficiency and 30th in the league on average yards gained on first down (4.6). The Broncos and Steelers were the only teams in the league with more give-aways than the Jets, who have ten (five fumbles and five interceptions). They didn’t allow any interceptions or fumbles against New England, but they didn’t win either.

Shonn Greene’s game looked improved last week against New England, but that doesn’t change the fact that “Greene up the middle” felt like it was the only running call, or that the running game is struggling. Against the Patriots, the Jets wanted to get back to the ground-and-pound, but Greene just isn’t getting it done up the middle. According to one ESPN article, the running game is averaging just 2.7 yards inside. Of the 57 times the Jets have rushed the ball up the middle, Greene has carried the ball 37 times and gained just six first downs.

Just because the offense wasn’t a disaster last week doesn’t change that the Jets run the same plays over and over. It doesn’t change that the Jets had seven three-and-outs against a defense that had forced only six three-and-outs the previous four games of the season and that the Jets had a third down conversion rate of only 27%. It doesn’t change that the Jets had only 255 yards of offense against a defense that allowed 326.6 yards per game.

And even though the Jets wanted to get back to the running game, was that the smartest move against New England’s weak pass defense? Sanchez seems to come into his own in the no-huddle, hurry up offense. How come that wasn’t tried in the fourth quarter last Sunday? We’ve watched the Jets come close a number of times and just run out of clock, down one or two scores. The pace of the offense last Sunday in the fourth was unacceptably slow.

Ryan was supportive of his offensive coach on Monday, saying that he feels “great” about Schottenheimer and “fortunate” to have them on the staff, according to the Newark Star Ledger.

But Jets fans, who have had gripes Schottenheimer for years, are getting vocal again about those gripes with a team that’s under .500. On the Newark Star Ledger article alone, there were a number of comments complaining about Schottenheimer.

thejklecko said, “Rex is sabotaging his own career as a Head Coach by his senseless dedication to the worst Offensive Coordinator in the NFL. The Jets will never win anything with this failure calling plays. They are also destroying their young franchise QB.”

rexybeast said, “I"m not making a comparison to Rex. I love Rex, as a defensive guru. Like him as a motivator.  I'm just venting when it comes to Rex. But, I will be done with him if Schott is back next year. I'm already furious Schott is here this year.”

bcs715 said, “I don't like Schottenheimer as an OC. I haven't for years. I wish we had someone else.”

windrider50 said, “Most successful OC's appear to have a basic approach to Offense, and adapt it to the talent on the team's strengths and weaknesses. They also demonstrate, to some degree, an ability to adapt "real time" if the plays in the game plan are not working. Schotts gotta go.”

And those are just a few of the comments on ONE article that's out there in the echo chamber of madness that is the internet.

The word “genius” has been thrown around when referring to Schottenheimer, but the words "average," or even "mediocre," seem more accurate. The Jets haven’t ranked in the top ten league teams in total offensive yards since before Schottenheimer was hired.

Since 2006, when Schottenheimer was hired, the Jets offense has put up these numbers:

2006 – 25th in the league in total offensive yards / averaged 19.8 points per game

2007 – 26th / 16.8 ppg

2008 – 16th / 25.3 ppg

2009 – 20th / 21.8 ppg

2010 – 11th / 22.9 ppg

As of Week 6 in 2011, they rank 24th in total offensive yards and are averaging 24.2 points per game. Division rivals are posting better offensive numbers.  New England is managing 33 points per game and is first in total offensive yards. Buffalo is tenth in total offensive yards and posting 32.8 yards per game.

Even last year, in 2010, when the Jets were eleventh in total offensive yards, they only averaged 22.9 points per game. San Diego was first last year in total offensive yards, and averaged 27.6 points per game. New England, eighth in the league in total offensive yards, averaged a league best 32.4 points per game.

In their best year under Schottenheimer for points, 2008, New England only put up 25.6 pointss per game, but that was the year Tom Brady was out all but the first quarter of the first game of the season, and that was the year the Jets had Brett Favre at quarterback. 25.3 points per game being their best average in the time Schottenheimer has been in New York is nowhere near New England’s best during those same years (which was 36.8 points per game in 2007). In fact, it’s only slightly better than New England’s worst points per game average in that time, 24.1 points per game in 2006.

Sure, Tom Brady isn’t an offensive coordinator and some of the Jet offensive shortcomings are due to the talent of the players available. But last season’s team was arguably the most talented team the Jets have put on the field in the last decade, and there wasn’t anything exceptional about the offense. Well, except for their ability to get things done in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter, which seemed to be the only time the offense didn’t struggle in the red zone, getting touchdowns rather than field goals.

The defense last year was exceptionally good, third in the league in yards allowed, and allowing only 19 points per game. That’s how the Jets won games. But the offense barely outscored what the defense allowed, even though the defense put up an incredible effort almost every game.

The bottom line is that nothing points to “brilliant, misunderstood offensive football genius.” Everything points to “average, pretty predictable football guy whose job is offensive coordinator for the New York Jets.”

Rex Ryan is a professional, so he won’t single out Schottenheimer to bash publicly. He shouldn’t, because it’s bad business. But with the way the offense is falling flat this season – a season with high expectations – something has to change. Maybe it’s about time it was the offensive coordinator.

Back to the New York Jets Newsfeed