Gang Green's Loyalty To And Opinion Of Schottenheimer Very Misguided

By Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork/

NEW YORK (WFAN) — Woody Johnson better know what he’s doing.

When the Jets announced Monday that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was expected to return in 2012, you could hear a collective gasp throughout the Tri-State Area. You could also hear chuckles from places like greater Boston, Western New York and South Florida.

Since we’ve already touched on the “Sunshine State,” let’s move north from Miami approximately 340 miles to Jacksonville, where Shahid Khan, the man who will take over complete control of the Jaguars this week after buying the franchise from long-time owner Wayne Weaver, is expected to eventually interview Schottenheimer for the team’s head coaching position.

If that process goes well and Schottenheimer is hired, Santa Claus is expected to call a press conference to announce that Christmas will make an unprecedented return to both the New York City and Jacksonville areas to kick off 2012. Sources say Santa will also unveil his new Polar Express train, which will be pulled by thousands of green and white reindeer. The jolly old fat guy, likely wearing “Fireman” Ed Anzalone’s helmet, will then dump millions of presents on both municipalities.

I mean the vast majority of Jets fans will be just absolutely giddy.

Of course, there are those, myself included, who think that Schottenheimer is only partly to blame for the Jets’ archaic approach to scoring points. However, popular opinion often reveals the truth and in this case, as I’ve tried to state countless times, the other, as in non-playoff, football team in the Tri-State Area needs to take a fresh look at its offensive philosophy and, more importantly, needs to find a way to make quarterback Mark Sanchez become all that many still believe he can be.

As it stands right now, Schottenheimer is still property of the Jets and if nothing changes will remain in his current position until the end of the 2013 season.

Again, Mr. Khan, the Jets’ fan base would have absolutely no problem blowing away your asking price. They’ll even throw in a lifetime gift card to the new Apple store inside Grand Central Terminal if you’ll just do the one thing the Jets hierarchy is either too stubborn or too afraid to lose face to do.

General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and head coach Rex Ryan spoke at a rather surreal press conference inside the Jets’ Florham Park headquarters on Monday. They did their best to defend Schottenheimer, but the one key accolade, if that’s what you want to call it, to come out of the question and answer session was Tannenbaum calling his beleaguered coordinator’s service of late “credible.”

This for a team expected by many to get to the Super Bowl this season off two consecutive AFC championship game appearances, the way paved mostly by defense mind you, that finished 25th overall in total offense, led the NFL in points allowed off turnovers and ended up 8-8 after losing its last three.

And of course there was the Sanchez maturation process, which, granted, was as much the quarterback’s fault as it was the offensive coordinator’s, but was never rectified, despite him throwing for a career-high 3,474 yards and 26 touchdowns.

To the Jets, all of this, coupled with the fact that the Sanchez experience will continue in some form no matter what, was enough to bring back Schottenheimer. Perhaps Tannenbaum and Ryan were taking their cues from owner Johnson, who has rather quietly become fiercely loyal to not only his own employees but also to NFL lineage. I don’t know if Johnson is tight with Marty Schottenheimer, the former longtime NFL coach who experienced far more success than failure during his solid career, but he certainly respects both father and son.

If Brian Schottenheimer is not scooped up by any of the teams currently with head coaching vacancies, Tannenbaum’s job this offseason will become harder than it’s ever been before. That’s because the Jets, with a few tweaks on the offensive line and at the skill positions, could be a highly productive unit next season with a more forward thinking coordinator, like Josh McDaniels or others who have yet to be named. (Norv Turner, the most attractive potential guy for the job will return as Chargers head coach, the team announced Tuesday afternoon)

But if Schottenheimer returns, Tannenbaum can’t just tweak and pray. My opinion on the Schotty-Sanchez relationship has not changed and probably won’t unless those two guys unzip themselves and come back as different people next season, and right now there’s no indication either will.

Does anyone have any real confidence that Sanchez will make this quantum leap in the cerebral aspects of playing quarterback? We know he has the physical tools, but with a coordinator that seems either unable or unwilling to teach him all the other stuff it just seems like an awfully big risk to pair these two together for even one more game, let alone another season or two, which is what they both have left on their respective contracts.

If this is Johnson playing the loyalty card, then shame on him. And if Tannenbaum and Ryan had other ideas but didn’t fight more vehemently, then shame on them, too.

On the other hand, if bringing Schottenheimer back is based on some shot in the dark gut feeling that both coordinator and quarterback will eventually get on the same page and be able to work side by side to make the Jets less reliant on defense, all I can say is if it fails Johnson’s competence as an owner must be questioned and his GM, head coach and every other coach on the staff should go.

Jets fans may be overly reactionary, emotional like teenagers with early curfews and often fair-weather, but they aren’t stupid. They can see right through this and not because they know the true reason why Schottenheimer was given a vote of confidence, but because they’ve been through so many coaching disasters throughout the decades they are almost Nostradamus-like in predicting what’s to come.

Tannenbaum is now charged with fixing a broken team, but unless a Pakistani-born billionaire steps in and saves the day, the Jets’ GM, as far as I am concerned, should just turn to the Army Corps of Engineers to shore up the defense.

Because unless there’s a miracle — and it would be a true post-Christmas miracle in Jetsland — a Schotty and Sanchez-led offense in 2012 may even give the Mayans a moment of pause.

Read more columns by Jeff Capellini

Do you think the Jets will ever improve offensively with Schottenheimer and Sanchez working together? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.

Comments (14)
  1. Marshall G says:

    I have to stress to you the problem is the HEAD COACH! It is outrageous that a head coach would get up in a press conference after games 2 weeks in a row and say: “I don’t know why we threw the ball 60 times.” or “I don’t know why (my best receiver) was out of the game”. Vince Lombardi must have rolled over in his grave, with the laughing coming from Coach Parcells, Landry, and Shula. Character starts with the Head Coach, who sets the tone , which is why this is a team of losers- & I will finally give up on them! after 43 years of misery
    Only an incompetientr buffoon who is so insecure in his abilities would behave the way he does. He claims that he takes responsibility, but he really doesn’t. To say he is not in control when that is his job, is indefensible. Shame on him!
    He gave a guarantee that they would win the Superbowl this year. Well that means to me that he should resign immediately.

  2. Mike M says:

    Let me get this straight, the rest of the league is supposed to hire a bad OC with no head coaching experience to be their head coach, just because the Jets are stuck with him? Memo to the Jets and their dopey coach, it’s the goal of all of the other 31 teams to get better and win the Super Bowl. The biggest problem the Jets had this year was the salary cap. They sold their soul the last 2 years overpaying has-beens and giving away draft picks to get on the back page of the newspapers. Stop talking about the last 2 years, you won nothing.

    1. Lantern says:

      Mike, I think you made it pretty clear you hate the Jets, but you just embarrassed yourself with your comments. If the Jags hire Schottenheimer, they must see something that works for them. It has little to do with the Jets at that point. So, as for the rest of the league being on the hook, that’s just a silly statement. From the perspective of Jets fans is where this column always originates in scope, and they are almost in unison in agreement that the Jets keeping Schotty was a big mistake. But the only recourse they have is to scream about it — rightly I might add. And as for the salary cap stuff you mentioned, did you know the Jets were actually $9 million-$11 million UNDER at season’s end? Go back to hatin’ dude.

  3. Jim inVA says:

    Didn’t San Diego give up on Breese when Shotty was the OC of the Chargers? Wasn’t Brett Farve critical of Shotty as an OC also. How can the problem always be with the QB and not the coordinatior? I pray the new of Jacksonville is dumb enough, er, impressed with Shotty to hire him as his head coach. Maybe Shotty will return the favor to Rex and hire him as his DC when he gets the boot!

  4. JoshieIchiban says:

    Schotty’s got to go. His philosophy is clearly not fitting for this team. The pieces for a solid running game are there to build on. Change is needed at OC. Sanchez is physically capable of getting it done, let him play out his contract. A little speed on the outside and the D can move up a couple spots, but time is running out with this unit. The team as a whole has potential. I have no answer to Holmes. His contract is way to big to unload this off season. We’re probably stuck with him. Regardless, jets fans are used to controversy. This is a set back we are familiar with.

    1. Lantern says:

      Josh, thanks for the response. I can’t disagree. I do, however, think Shonn Greene is fine as the featured back as long as the Jets get a change of pace guy who can run off tackle. I love Tomlinson but don’t see him returning. Plus, the Jets never used him right. You may see McKnight get the ball a lot more in 2012 due to his speed. As for Holmes, I can’t see him getting cut, not with a $7.5 million cap hit next season. It’s on him either way to offer a mea culpa to the franchise.

  5. Mike says:

    who cares about the Jets .

    1. r.c says:

      someone who’s not a jet fan.

  6. Paul D says:

    Schotty gets a head coaching job and that’s the only sign needed that the world will indeed come to an end in 2012. If you ask Ryan, he’ll tell you that the only coach better than him is his offensive coach. And offensive is putting it mildly. THIS TURKEY IS BRAIN DEAD! (my favorite line from the original “Wall Street”)

    1. Lantern says:

      Paul, thanks for the response. I won’t say Schotty cannot be a good head coach. There’s no way to tell. All indications are the things you need, like leadership and passion and game-planning are there. What’s not is what’s currently job-specific — with this team his offensive philosophy doesn’t work. That doesn’t, however, mean that he won’t get a job, hire competent coordinators and go on to be a solid NFL coach. One has no bearing on the other in this instance.

  7. Mike says:

    Jets fans need to wake up and realize their team and talent is not that good. They did not beat a team with a winning record this year. Their highlioght win may have been their first game against Cowbiys. Tannenbaum gave away too many class players for classless players. Too much talking, not enough playing. Think about this, the Giants swept the AFC East, including the Patriots, and the Jets could figure out how to split against their hated division rivals. Be quiet next year and let the playing speak for you!

    1. Lantern says:

      Mike, thanks for the comment. All good points except for the fact that the talent is much better than you think. The problem is QB is everything and without both Sanchez and Schottenheimer co-existing in a consistently productive scheme it really makes little difference who they have on defense or special teams. All those players can do is make losses closer. I’m not saying the Jets’ D is the elite unit it was the previous two seasons, but it did finish 5th overall in the NFL this season, which should have been more than enough. But with an offense that’s not even remotely close to average it makes the rest of the team look worse than it really was.

  8. Ed says:

    No Schotty and Sanchez can’t improve together. Time for a new system in the offense. If Schotty is back Jets fans might as well sign up for 5-11 and dead last in AFC East this fall.

    1. Lantern says:

      Ed, thanks for the comment. What’s funny is while 5-11 might be a bit extreme you are right in the sense that I cannot see the Jets being what ultimately they have said they will be — in the Super Bowl. If they go 9-7 or get in as a wlidcard that’s all good and well, but the idea here is to get home playoff games and byes. Even with Schotty back the Jets could retool the defense a bit, work on the O-line and get another receiver and be right back in the playoffs next season.

      But it’s gotta be more than that. It’s gotta be about being a true contender and the only way they will become one is with an offensive coordinator who teaches in 21st century NFL logic and is willing to do whatever is necessary to fix this quarterback, whose skill is certainly there to be elite, but whose mental game is the furthest thing from it.

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