NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Brian Schottenheimer’s cell phone has been buzzing a bunch lately.
The late-night text messages from friends and family members usually come as the Jets’ embattled offensive coordinator is still working, trying all he can to come up with a winning game plan.
“I’m like, ‘I’m getting another one. Something must’ve come out. Something was said,’” Schottenheimer said with a smile Thursday. “You have to laugh at it some. Hey, this is a great business, but I don’t get too caught up in it.”
Good thing, because there certainly is a lot being said about him. Fans have flocked to WFAN, Twitter and message boards, demanding that Schottenheimer be fired. There’s even a Facebook page dedicated to the cause. Media members have also floated out the idea that the Jets need to make a change.
Schottenheimer is aware of the mounting criticism, but isn’t concerned about his job security.
“You get texts from your friends, ‘Hey, you doing OK?’” he said. “You don’t have time to worry about it. It’s out of my control. I’m an excellent football coach. Have we been inconsistent this year? Absolutely. I wish I could put my finger on it and say exactly why that was.”
The Jets’ offense ranks 27th in the NFL, something Schottenheimer says he “absolutely” deserves blame for. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has been inconsistent and not progressed the way many expected, the offensive line has struggled at times and the receivers haven’t had many big plays down the field. The Jets even brought in Tom Moore, the former Indianapolis Colts’ offensive guru, as a consultant to assist Schottenheimer.
“There’s things that clearly I could do better,” said Schottenheimer. “There’s things that clearly the unit could do better.”
It all came to a head last Saturday as the offense couldn’t get much of anything done down the stretch in a 29-14 loss to the Giants that seriously jeopardized their playoff hopes. Sanchez threw 59 times in the game, something that had even the players scratching their heads.
“That’s not when we are at our best, we know that,” Schottenheimer said. “But when you get in a situation like that, you have to do what you think have to do to win the game.”
That performance also fueled growing speculation that Schottenheimer may be done after Sunday if the Jets don’t make the postseason.
“Everybody on the outside in thinks they can call plays better,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “That’s just kind of how it is. … I think it’s unfair because it’s not Brian’s fault. He’s not on the field. He’s on the sideline, calling plays. We have to execute the plays and that what it starts with.”
Schottenheimer adds he doesn’t think the offense needs a good performance Sunday in the regular-season finale at Miami for him to remain with the team. He received a two-year extension before the season, and Schottenheimer, in his sixth year with the Jets, has been given no indication either way by the team about his future.
“I grew up in a household around a coach that took a lot of heat and got fired at 14-2,” he said, referring to his father Marty’s firing by San Diego following the 2006 season. “You have no control over it, so you just roll with the punches. … We lost the game, but Santa still came.”
Coach Rex Ryan has said all week that he should be blamed for the failures of his team, whether it’s on offense or defense, and not Schottenheimer or Sanchez. He also has previously said that he thinks Schottenheimer would make a terrific NFL head coach someday, a possibility the offensive coordinator turned down in previous offseasons to remain with the Jets.
“I absolutely feel the same way,” Ryan said of his feelings about Schottenheimer. “He’s a tireless worker. I think he’s surrounded with guys that are like him that way. When he becomes a head coach, I just think he has it. He’s got it in his bloodlines.”
But it’s safe to say Schottenheimer’s status as an up-and-coming head coaching candidate might have taken a hit. Sure, he says, there’s plenty to improve, but he also points to the fact that the Jets are ranked No. 1 in red-zone offense, previously a serious problem area.
“It’s not all bad, but the inconsistencies when you’re struggling and you’re on the verge of making the playoffs,” Schottenheimer said, “that stuff is going to be pointed out.”
Many of the players, such as Tomlinson and Sanchez, publicly back Schottenheimer, something that makes him feel good. He wants to remain with the Jets beyond this season, but knows that decision might be out of his hands now.
“I’ve been fired before,” he said. “If you get into this profession, you’re going to get fired. The guys that sit there and worry about it are generally the guys that end up getting fired.”
That’s why most of those late-night texts have gone unanswered for now.
“I don’t have time, so if you guys are watching, I’m not being a jerk,” Schottenheimer said with a smile as he looked into a television camera. “I just haven’t had time to respond. I’ll call you over the weekend.”
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