NFL: Embattled Jets OC trying to get offense right
AP Sports Writer
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) – The chants from frustrated fans were loud and clear as the New York Jets’ struggling offense stalled over and over again.
“Schotty Must Go!”
No touchdowns, no mercy.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer heard the calls for his job. And they continued after New York’s 10-6 loss to Miami last Sunday as coach Rex Ryan stepped to the podium for his postgame news conference.
“It’s not the first time I’ve ever heard it,” Schottenheimer said Thursday. “I don’t have time to worry about it.”
He’s too busy trying to draw up a plan this week for New York’s game at Pittsburgh (10-3) against a defense that’s as stingy as they come. After all, the Jets (9-4) have gone nearly 2 1/2 games without scoring a touchdown on offense.
“Hard, difficult,” Schottenheimer said of the last few days. “You do a lot of hours at the office, a lot of hours on the film machine.”
Schottenheimer is particularly disappointed with the loss to the Dolphins, which followed an embarrassing 45-3 rout by New England.
“We were frustrated because we only scored six points,” he said. “That’s unacceptable. But to give them their 10 points basically off of turnovers is what we’re really disgusted about.”
Schottenheimer has been hailed as one of the NFL’s brightest young offensive coordinators and his name has been mentioned for a handful of head coaching opportunities during the last few years. But, his reputation has taken a hit lately.
“I’m in charge of the offense and with that, I take a lot of pride in that,” Schottenheimer said. “I take a lot of pride in my job, I take a lot of pride in our unit, and we’re not playing very well.”
Coach Rex Ryan has publicly maintained his support of Schottenheimer, but realizes things need to get better. He was particularly bothered when Schottenheimer called for Mark Sanchez to spike the ball against the Dolphins with over a minute left after the Jets appeared to gain momentum on a possible winning drive.
“I think it hasn’t been our day lately and I give the opponents credit as well,” Ryan said. “That doesn’t mean I’ve lost confidence in the staff. It’s a great staff.”
Schottenheimer also has the full support of his players, who know there’s plenty of blame to pass around.
“The coach can’t get out there and play,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. “He calls the plays and it’s up to us to go out there and execute it.”
Just as the Jets were doing when they scored 23 or more points while winning nine of 10 games before their two-game skid.
“Earlier in the year, when we were putting up 30 points a game, everybody’s like, ‘Schotty’s calling great plays,’ and you heard that talk,” Tomlinson said. “Now when we haven’t scored a touchdown the last couple of games, it’s Schotty’s fault. It isn’t Schotty’s fault. It’s our fault. We need to play better. We need to make more things happen when we get the ball in our hands.”
Schottenheimer appreciates the players sharing the blame, and he acknowledges that it isn’t just the playcalling that has caused the offense to stagnate. But, he also knows where the fingers from outside are pointing.
“It’s my job to put the players in position to make plays,” he said. “It’s my job, along with the staff, to get them to do the fundamentals right. That’s a big thing for us this week is trying to get back to fundamentals because let’s face it, we’ve got to get better at blocking, throwing, catching. We’ve got to get better at that.”
The son of former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer, he’s used to hearing criticism when things aren’t going right.
“I was in the stands when they chanted that about my father in Cleveland, and Kansas City, and San Diego,” Brian Schottenheimer said. “It’s always harder on the families. I always worry about wife, my kids. And, my kids are young enough where they don’t have to deal with it. It comes with the territory. I know I’m a damn good football coach and good at what I do.”
It just hasn’t translated on the scoreboard lately. The funny thing is the stats indicate that the Jets aren’t all that bad on offense, ranking 12th overall, including sixth in the rushing game and 21st in passing.
Inconsistency has been the main culprit, with Sanchez struggling and the offense going back and forth between being a run-first and a pass-first unit.
“The most important thing we can do is get the plays that are called, have confidence in them, have confidence in the plan like we do every week, and execute,” Sanchez said. “We have to catch it when the ball is there. I have to throw it more accurately. He puts us in the right position to make plays.”
The Jets need to be a lot better this week while going up against a Steelers defense that thrives on pressuring the quarterback into making mistakes and blowing up game plans. Otherwise, Schottenheimer will be hearing plenty more chants.
“It comes with the territory,” he said. “Hopefully we win this game, hopefully we play really well against the Steelers and now I can stay for another week.”
Notes: Ryan said the Jets signed DT Jarron Gilbert from the practice squad because another team gave New York “a courtesy call,” saying it wanted to sign him to its active roster. “We decided we wanted to keep Gilbert,” Ryan said.