This is a guest post from Nick Spano, founder of FloppingOut.com and Flopping Out Radio. Nick is a die hard Jets fan. You can follow Nick on twitter @nickspano or his blog @floppingout .
I have lived and breathed New York Jet football since I was 10 years old. I have witnessed some terrible years (and I mean terrible) but I have also witnessed a few good years. Three AFC Championship games, a few playoffs wins, some good seasons, but never have I seen an offense with so much talent, sputter and look so unprepared than when watching a Brian Schottenheimer led offense. I am not here to personally attack Brian because that is not what I do. But I am here to attempt to pin point just exactly what the problem is with the New York Jets offense.
Since being named offensive coordinator in 2006, Brian Schottenheimer has been heavily criticized, yet the Jets front office has always seemed to stick by him. It really wasn’t until last year when the Jets had some real offensive struggles throughout the season that some of the Jets in house began to question his play-calling. After last years AFC Championship game loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, star wide out Santonio Holmes was especially vocal with his displeasure. When referring to Schotty, Holmes said he watched from the sidelines “the first couple plays” of the Jets’ 24-19 loss to the Steelers. “Ask Coach Schottenheimer what was the reason behind that,” he said. Asked if that was frustrating, he became annoyed. “I just had to go with the game plan,” said Holmes, who had two catches for 61 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown. “That’s the way things were called at the time, and that’s what I had to do.”
Fast forward to 2011. Since week one, the Jets offense has been sluggish. It was shut down two weeks in a row against Baltimore and Oakland and had a very slow start against in New England week 5. Even in games where the Jets would win comfortably, the offense still has yet to really break out. Take the Jacksonville, Buffalo and Dolphin games; there still was something missing.
The main thing that I question is the lack of 1st quarter scoring. This offense seems to come out flat every single week. In fact, throughout the first 9 games so far this season, the Jets offense has only managed to score first quarter touchdowns in JUST TWO GAMES (Jacksonville and Oakland), as they would also add a first quarter touchdown on special teams and defense, respectively. That fact alone makes me question Schotty’s capability. How is it possible that an offense continues to come out flat week after week? What goes on in practice, film rooms, meetings and prior to games, that this offense just cannot get it going? Sure the past two weeks seemed to have gotten better, but a mistake against Buffalo and inability to execute against New England on the teams first drives, stopped two great drives led by quarterback Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense.
Now sure Schotty is just an offensive coordinator, but with an inexperienced head coach in Rex Ryan, who is defense and all defense, the offensive coordinator position for the New York Jets maybe one of the more pivotal positions in the game. Lets take a look at the Jets offense in 2011 by the numbers.
The Jets rank 14th in the NFL in total points, scoring 23.9 per game. 23rd in total yards per game with 314.1, 20th in passing yards with 216.0 and shockingly rank 24th in the NFL with 98.1 rushing yards per game. All but passing yards are down from last season. 2010 stats: Points Per Game: 23 (13th) Yards Per Game: 351 (11th) Pass yards: 202 (22nd) Rush yards: 148 (4th).
The overall ranking (total yards) for Brian Schottenheimer’ offenses in the past five years (2006 – 2010) is 25, 26, 16, 20, 22. That’s never higher than sixteenth in a league of 32 teams. In case you’re wondering, the 16 was the year that Favre was here and the offense had to be “simplified” for Favre, who is well-noted for being unwilling to study and change his style. So, on average, Schotty offenses (Jets’ offenses) have ranked 22nd in a 32-team league.
So is all of this Schottenheimer’s fault or does the quarterback, offensive line, receivers, running backs etc. have to take the brunt of it. Well…of course at the end of the day the players play the game and the coaches coach, so it’s a group effort, but is the coach putting these guys in a position to succeed My answer is an emphatic NO.
Sanchez: "I'm totally behind Brian...I know the players are and the coaches as well."
Sure third year quarterback Mark Sanchez, is on record backing Schotty, when he said “I’m totally behind Brian…I know the players are and the coaches as well.” on 1050 ESPN Radio in New York a few weeks back. But as the leader and the face of this franchise, what is Sanchez expected to say? Personally I believe Sanchez is getting a raw deal so far. Believe me, (and he’d be the first one to admit it)– he’s far from perfect, but he is certainly NOT alone with his struggles under the watch of Brian Schottenheimer.
The first example is Chad Pennington. When Schotty took over in 2006, his quarterback, Chad Pennington, was returning from a major injury. Chad’s 2006 season was a respectable 12th. Not bad, right? The only problem with this stat is that Chad had never ranked lower than 11th in his career, which included a number one ranking in 2002. The following year under Schottenheimer in 2007, Chad ranked 15th. The team decided he was too fragile and wanted to part ways, so they let him go and brought in Brett Favre. Favre came in and promptly ranked 21st among quarterbacks in Schottenheimer’s simplified scheme. Just a couple of washed-up veterans, right? Eh not so much, Chad Pennington would rank 2nd with the Miami Dolphins poor receiving corps, once he left the Jets in 2008, and Brett Favre, would then leave for Minnesota and would go on to have statistically his best season and rank 2nd in 2009.
We can’t forget about Schotty’s first development project, Kellen Clemens. Yeah, that was a complete failure. An early 2nd round draft pick in 2006, expected to be Pennington’s successor—he just never took that next step. Clemens would start in only 9 games for the Jets over his four seasons with Schotty and the Jets before leaving for Washington in the offseason (he has since been cut). As of November 16th, 2011, Clemens career stats are 147-284 (51.8 comp %), 1,686 yards, 5 TD’s and 11 INT’s, in 9 starts.
Enter Mark Sanchez. The 5th overall pick in the 2009 draft out of USC, Sanchez started for the Jets from day one and immediately had more 300 yard passing games (5 games) than any quarterback under Schotty. Is that a credit to Schotty or the young QB?….I’d go with Sanchez after looking at the dip in overall stats for Schotty.
Remember in Sanchez’s rookie season when they gave him a color coded wristband based on the game situation about times to avoid risks. Well the thinking in all that is essentially the answer to Sanchez making mistakes–was telling him not to make mistakes. That’s like telling a struggling pitcher in baseball to throw strikes. Oh and god forbid Sanchez makes a mistake, then EVERYTHING becomes those less risky short timing throws. That’s not Sanchez’s strength, in fact those are his weaknesses. He is not a precision passer at this point. Am I the only one who sees that? Shouldn’t the offensive coordinator see that?
All in all, we are 24 hours away from the Jets 10th game of the season, so it is clear that Schotty is going no where this season. Though his contract ending at the end of the season and him already stating he wants a head coaching gig, should he have already been let go? Many believe that if not the 2011 could have been lost, as i whole heartedly agree. But, obviously with Schotty still calling the shots offensively, apparently the front office did not think so. I was on the record stating that the Jets should have already replaced Schotty with a different play caller. Now I am not saying go out and get Bill Walsh’s clone, but why not someone on staff already? How about Bill Callahan? Callahan led the Raiders to the 2002 AFC Championship Game and a berth in Super Bowl XXXVII in his first season as a head coach, making him just the fourth rookie head coach in NFL history to do so. His Raiders also led the NFL in passing for the first time in team history that season and led the league in total offense for just the second time in team history. During his tenure as offensive coordinator for the Oakland, the Raider offense led the league in rushing in 2000 and led the league in passing in 2002. How about that for a resume, Mr Schottenheimer. Not to mention if you watch games carefully, it seems like Callahan is the first person to approach Sanchez on the sideline after a drive. Is that because he has less duties or because Mark has a better relationship. I cannot be 100% sure, you’d have to ask him, but let’s look at another possible replacement.
How about a young guy who Rex is more familiar with, like say running backs coach Anthony Lynn? Nothing says Rex’s ground and pound like Lynn. While Lynn hasn’t had much of a resume as a coach, as he has only been coaching for about 10 years and doesn’t have the background (or last name) like Schotty. Lynn was a former running back with the Denver Broncos and was part of Denver’s back-to-back Super Bowl champion teams (1997-98). After being one of the first coaches that Rex would add to his staff, Lynn led the Jets running backs during the 2009 season, in which the Jets led the NFL in rushing average at 172.2 yards per game. Lynn came to the Jets after spending the last six years as a running backs coach with the Browns (2007-08), Cowboys (2005-06) and Jaguars (2003-04). In Cleveland he worked with Jamal Lewis, who finished with 1,304 yards rushing in 2007 despite missing two games. And while at Dallas, he oversaw the emergence of Julius Jones and Marion Barber III. At Jacksonville, Fred Taylor recorded two of the top four rushing seasons in Jaguars history. So in his short career Lynn has led some of the leagues best backs in football.
While Callahan maybe the best fit for Sanchez, there’s no denying what a good running game does for the young QB. And with fans and media bashing Schotty for not running the ball enough this season and with the Sanchez’s stats being drastically better when the team rushes for over 100 yards, Lynn may not be a bad choice. One thing I do know is Lynn is one of Rex’s favorites.
I’ve said for a long time that I do not trust Mark Sanchez and this Jets offense under the watch of Brian Schottenheimer. I just don’t. The stats are there to back it up and if you watch for yourself, and there is no way you can say that this offense doesn’t need a big time change. So before the media and fans run what could be a franchise quarterback out of town because of a coordinator that hasn’t had a successful quarterback, we should get him a better coach and offense that better suits his game.