When the Rams hired Brian Schottenheimer to coordinate their
offense and oversee the development of quarterback Sam Bradford, I
received an email from a friend in New York. He's a passionate Jets
His two-word message: "My condolences."
I don't tell the story to make Schottenheimer look bad as he
begins a new career phase in St. Louis, running the offense for
first-year head coach Jeff Fisher. I care about what Schottenheimer
does from this day forward.
Considering what's at stake - Bradford's career arc - I believe
Schottenheimer is the most important employee at Rams Park in 2012.
I offered the snarky email sample to underline a point: Jets fans
were pleased, perhaps even deliriously happy, when Schottenheimer
"resigned" after a disappointing 2011 season to end his six-year run
as the team's offensive coordinator.
This is fascinating. Is Schottenheimer getting a fair shake? He
didn't work in the most stable environment in New York. He endured
frequent changes in key areas.
Schottenheimer served under two head coaches, Eric Mangini and
Rex Ryan. He had four starting quarterbacks in six years: the injury-
prone Chad Pennington, the old and declining Brett Favre, the
scrappy journeyman Kellen Clemens and the young and enigmatic Mark
Thomas Jones, Schottenheimer's most productive running back, left
as a free agent. So did the Jets' terrific all-purpose player,
former Mizzou quarterack Brad Smith.
The five receivers (wideouts and tight ends) targeted for the
most passing attempts over the six seasons were Jerricho Cotchery,
Dustin Keller, Laveraneus Coles, Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards.
Holmes came to the Jets with considerable baggage after the
Pittsburgh Steelers grew disenchanted with his off-field problems.
Edwards, who had some good seasons, is still looking for a job this
summer after spending the last three years with three different
With Schottenheimer directing the offense, the Jets made it to
the playoffs three times in six seasons and twice reached the AFC
championship game with Sanchez at QB.
I'm inclined to give Schottenheimer the benefit of the doubt. New
York enjoys gnawing on scapegoats, and he was a convenient target.
Jets' management wasn't going to fire Ryan after last season's 8-8
fizzle; it was easy to dump blame on Schottenheimer.
That said, I have no reason to be a Schottenheimer apologist,
either. Truth is, I don't know what to expect from him.
Schottenheimer's critics can look at his six-year record and find
what they need to make a case against him. But Schottenheimer's
supporters can study the identical six-season block and find reasons
to defend him.
For example: one of the biggest gripes about Schottenheimer was
his alleged impatience with running the football. He was accused of
being whimsical and pass-happy. But over Schottenheimer's six
seasons the Jets led the NFL in rushing attempts and rushing yards.
In New York, Sanchez is generally portrayed as an overrated and
underachieving talent with a fragile psyche. If Sanchez is so
inferior, then what was Schottenheimer supposed to do about it?
If Schottenheimer takes the hit for Sanchez's mediocrity, then
how do we explain the quarterback's outstanding postseason play?
Sanchez is 4-2 in the playoffs, with all six games being played on
the road. He had nine touchdowns, three interceptions, a passer
rating of 94. …