Chris Celletti on why the Jets offensive struggles fall both on Brian Schottenheimer AND Rex Ryan
I’m as guilty of it as the next disgruntled Jets fan. On December 4, 2011 at 1:47 PM, sometime during the first or second quarter of the Jets-Redskins game, I tweeted the following:
“I hate Brian Schottenheimer. That’s all.”
Hate is a bit of a strong word. I don’t hate the man. He seems like a hard-working guy who takes his job seriously. Other than make me grow some gray hairs because I care about the Jets way too much, he really hasn’t done anything to m e.
But I probably tweeted that after a failed tight end screen, a wildcat call on 3rd and 4 (even if it was successful) or a draw on 2nd and long. There are countless times during a Jet game when they are on offense when you could tweet something like “I hate Brian Schottenheimer”. That’s because, despite probably being a really nice guy who you’d like to play golf with, Brian Schottenheimer is a bad offensive coordinator.
But blaming a coordinator is the thing football fans do the best. The Eagles are 4-8, why? Juan Castillo, thats’ why! The Giants have lost four in a row? Perry Fewell has lost his way! Us Jets fans are especially great at it, whether it be Schottenheimer, Mike Heimerdinger (I’ve decided that the next time the Jets make an awful play call on offense, it should be known as a “Schottenheimerdinger”), Paul Hackett, Bob Sutton…the list doesn’t end. And yes, sometimes it is warranted. But it is also an easy way out.
I love Rex Ryan and what he’s brought to the Jets. Sure, sometimes I wish he’d keep his mouth shut, sometimes I wish he’d learn to manage a clock a little bit better, but on the whole I’m more than pleased with Rex leading the Jets. My biggest concern with Ryan is that he’s a defensive coordinator masquerading as a NFL head coach. Ryan has such a love for “his” defense (in case you were wondering, he’ll remind you every time he can that it…”his”) that the offensive suffers. ESPN analyst and memory-less former Super Bowl-winning quarterback Steve Young has consistently stuck on this premise when discussing the Jets, and I think it has a lot of credence.
My next tweet after the in-the-moment Schottenheimer blast mentioned something about getting sick of Rex Ryan-Ball. What’s Rex Ryan-Ball? It is what we’ve seen from the Jets since the home loss to the Patriots in Week 10. It is about doing anything, everything, at all costs, NOT to turn the ball over. Rex Ryan-Ball would rather win a game 13-10 with no turnovers in a nail-biter than win 31-20 by taking a few chances. It is all about the defense. Get my defense on the field at the end of the game with a lead, and we will win. Well, we saw how that worked in Denver, and if Stevie Johnson could catch, how it worked against Buffalo.
I guess you could say that it is smart football. Maybe you share Ryan’s opinion. Maybe that’s just how the Jets have to play. Maybe Sanchez would kill them with pick-six after pick-six if they simply let him chuck the ball all over the place. But Rex Ryan-Ball works best if you have a truly dominant defense, if your running game is elite. The 2000 Ravens, the 85 Bears. Once in a lifetime type of teams. I don’t know if Ryan has got this memo yet, but it is week 13 and the Jets have neither a dominant defense or a good running game this season.
Just know that next time you destroy Schottenheimer for a crappy play call, he has a hulking head coach right behind him, perhaps drilling this style of football into his brain. Do we honestly think that if Ryan wanted to throw the ball downfield more, Schottenheimer wouldn’t listen to him? Would he really disregard his boss? If this in fact does happen, and Ryan has literally no say in offensive matters, then that’s a really big problem. We all know he’s a defensive guy, and you can’t change his defensive football upbringing. But the best coaches in football — Tom Coughlin, Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin — have full command of their sideline. If Tom Coughlin wants to blitz on a specific play, guess what? The Giants will blitz. If Belichick wants to fake a punt? They’re doing it. And it’s likely that Rex does have a say in the offensive style the Jets play, which is why when they struggle to move the ball, you can’t point JUST at Schotty.
And that brings us to this Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs will throw Tyler Palko at the Jets. Tyler freaking Palko, probably the worst quarterback to start an NFL game this season. I, for one, am fascinated to see how the Jets play this thing. For 55 minutes, the Jets were in a dogfight with the Washington Redskins, a bad football team with nothing to play for. The Jets didn’t try to jump on them, get a lead, and stomp on their throats. They were content playing a one-possession game, where one mistake loses them the game. Thankfully, the mistakes came by the guys wearing maroon and gold, and the Jets made a couple big plays. But how often can you count on that to happen?
I want to see the Jets come out guns blazing and give the Chiefs zero hope. I want to see them take the opening kick (stop deferring Rex, “your” defense keeps getting gashed early in games), march down the field and score, force a turnover and score again and put the game out of reach early. At home, the Jets CAN do that against the Chiefs. I hope they do. I think most Jet fans hope they do? Will Rex let them?
Prediction – It will be more of the same. I think the Jets win, and that’s because the Chiefs with Palko at quarterback are one of the worst offensive football teams in a very long time. But my dream of a 31-9 thrashing will probably be just that — a dream. I think they do it the way Rex wants it. Sanchez won’t put up big stats. They’ll try (mostly unsuccessfully) to run the ball. They’ll get some points off turnovers (I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned this yet, but Tyler Palko is really bad). They’ll win something like 20-10. Maybe 17-13 even. I wish the Jets would finally go out and beat up an inferior opponent. I just don’t see it happening.