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St. Louis Rams: The Brian Schottenheimer Paradox



When the news hit last night that Brian Schottenheimer had been hired as the St. Louis Rams newest offensive coordinator, I was not only stunned, but I also felt cold beads of sweat on my brow. I had accepted the assignment of writing a bit about "Schotty" (as Jets fans lovingly refer to him) a few hours before from Ryan Van Bibber. He suggested I get a hold of John Butchko over at "Gang Green Nation", the SBNation - New York Jets site. I fired off an e-mail to John, then I wrote a fanpost on GGN, asking for fan analysis of their oft maligned offensive coordinator.

First, let me tell you how great John Butchko and the hoards - and I do mean HOARDS - of GGN faithful have been in offering their insights. GGN is one of the sites I visit often for their rather astounding and in-depth football knowledge (for out and out funny, try "The Phinsider", the Miami Dolphins site). What I learned from John and the Jets fans was the source of the aforementioned "sweaty brow", and possibly even the chill that ran down my back. Why? Well let me tell, and show you why after the break...

The place to start is with John Butchko. Have a read of the two questions I asked him:

Schottenheimer started out well with the Jets when he first took the OC post, then the offense began to sputter? Is the lack of offensive production a direct reflection on him, or were there other factors? (i.e. - personality conflicts with Sanchez, lack ofmanagement of position coaches, ect..)

John Butchko: His first year in 2006 was probably his best year indeed. The Jets were undermanned, and Schottenheimer was able to cook up enough smoke and mirrors to make the offense productive enough to get the Jets to 10 wins. Even then, it was not that great of an offense, though. It was 25th in the league.

The lack of production since has to be a reflection on him I think. He has been the only constant the last few years. The Jets have seen major changes at every single skill position, including four different starting quarterbacks. His playcalling has been highly suspect. He does not get his most explosive players involved in the offense. He seldom breaks from his preconceived ideas entering a game. He throws in nonsensical wrinkles. He just really is not a good coach.

Schottenheimer's positives - negatives as an OC?

John Butchko: There are a lot of negatives.

Schottenheimer runs his offense based on the team he wishes he has instead of the team he actually has. Back in 2008 with Brett Favre struggling/injured down the stretch and the AFC's leading rusher in Thomas Jones, Schottenheimer continued to lean on the passing game. I can't count how many times the Jets put five receivers on the field on third and short.

Schottenheimer plays to his weaknesses instead of his strengths to try and trick the opponent. Take the Jets' game against the Giants this year. Mark Sanchez couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. The Jets were blowing the Giants off the ball in the run game. Schottenheimer thought it was a good idea to have a 3/1 pass/run ratio. The past few
years, the Jets have been a ground and pound team, but that only came because Rex Ryan stepped in and demanded Schottenheimer pound the football because the team was throwing it too much.

Schottenheimer doesn't get his best playmakers involved in the offense. During collapses in 2008 and 2011 with the offenses struggling, the biggest homerun threats the Jets had, Leon Washington and Joe McKnight, barely saw the field.

Schottenheimer runs a highly complicated offense based on elaborate pre-snap motion that seems to have limited effect aside from confusing his own players.

Schottenheimer has done an extremely poor job with Mark Sanchez. Sanchez was a raw product when he arrived in the NFL with only a year and a half experience starting at USC. He needed good coaching. What does he get? The Jets gave Sanchez the entire playbook from day one. What kind of a coach does that with a raw rookie? Whenever Sanchez makes a mistake, it seems like the team relied on a gimmick to try and fix things. They color coded their playbook to tell Sanchez when he should avoid risks. The quarterback is making mistake, and Schottenheimer's answer was essentially to tell him not to make mistakes. Sanchez was stripped twice on sacks against Baltimore this year. The answer was to put in a buzzer at practice that went off if he held the ball too long. What followed was Sanchez rushing his reads in the pocket and panicking whenever he felt pressure.

The bottom line is there has only been one constant for the Jets in the past six years on offense where they have failed to produce a single top ten unit and only have produced a single top fifteen unit. That's Brian Schottenheimer. Just looking at his record, I doubt hewould be in the league if he had a different last name. I feel bad for Sam Bradford.

Next, let's look at a slice of the GGN crowd. These are excerpts of comments from the Fanpost I posted on their site:

I'd avoid him liked spoiled meat if I were you

That is all.

Arm chair GM. Mod/contributing writer at SBN Jets blog GGN.

by Bro Namath on Jan 15, 2012 5:56 PM MST reply actions 3 recs


Schotty got his start in the league due to his Dad, Marty Schotty. He was the QB coach in San Diego because of Marty. In 2006, new Jets HC Eric Mangini hired Schotty as his OC because he thought they had a system in SD that challenged New England very well. Turns out it was more likely HOFs such as Brees, Tomlinson and Gates. Oh well.

In 2006, Schotty got the pass game going some (focused primarily on passing to WRs) but failed to get a run game. In 2008 they brought in former Raiders HC and OC to establish a run game. He did. They also brought in Brett Favre who crticized Schotty’s playbook as overly complicated, overly thick and with too many movements and gadgets. Everything was altered for Brett. Then Brett sucked down the stretch and Mangini got fired.

In 2009, Rex Ryan was hired and he retained the offensive staff promising that Schotty would be gone soon because he was sure to get a HC job soon. Schotty ran an inconsitent offense under Rex for two years. The run game was good with credit going to the Oline and Callahan but the pass was inconsistent to bad with blame going to Sanchez and Schotty. Then in 2011, the Jets brought in retired Colts OC Tom Moore to work on the red zone offense. With the same personel that had ranked next to last in the league in 2010 red zone offense, Moore turned them into the number redzone offense last year in 2011. But they had trouble all year getting to the redzone because the Oline had weakened and Schotty continued in playcalling.

After 6 years, Schotty is gone. Hurah, hurah. I can not tell you what his "system" is. I can’t tell you where his successes have been. Its been 6 terribly inconsistent years that caused two HCs to bring in two former OCs to help out. In each instance, the new OCs had prompt effect in improving things. But still, whatever Schotty was responsible for (passing in between the 20s, and play calling) always seemed to struggle or flat out stall. Sure there were 2 AFC champ appearances and third playoff appearance in 6 years, but that seemed to be in years where the defense carried the team.

There has been a lot of turnover in player personel on offense over these six years. You could try to give Schotty a little sympathy there. But at the same time, I would also say he never established anybody as his favorites. He never had, for example, a backup QB just waiting in the wings to step in and show his mastery of the "system." He has been afforded every tool possible, from two former successful OCs as assistants, to a great offensive line, to a great running game, a Brett Favre, a gadget player like Brad Smith, WRs like Lavernues Coles, Jerrico Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress. He got a little safety blanket in Tomlinson. All to no great effect.

Schotty sucks. Best of luck to you if he is indeed hired.

by CervezaVerde on Jan 15, 2012 1:42 PM MST reply actions 1 recs

Hmm? I see a trend here... Yet, I can't help but feel Brian Schottenheimer may only be guilty of being one piece of stale bread in a whole manky loaf? Rex Ryan's team didn't do many things right in 2011, and they do have some key players that are past their prime or just flat out failed to perform. The New York Jets are a team whose identity as a smash-mouth, run first offensive team has been occluded by the tendency in the modern NFL game to pass the ball. It's why they drafted Mark Sanchez with the 5th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, right? While Sanchez has shined off and on over the last three season, his latest effort as Jets QB was a bit titchy. I do find validity in some of the Jets fans assertions that "Schotty" had some play calling brain farts There is enough evidence to support claims that Brian seems to be rather intractable in his game planning, sometimes to tragic results. He's known for setting his game plans in "stone", with no malleability whatsoever during a game.

I don't pretend to know how to be an offensive coordinator of an NFL team, but I have always envisioned the "OC" conversing with an eagle-eyed, faithful sidekick who is up in the stadium booth so he can adjust the gameplan as the situations change. The idea that his booth guy tells Brian, "Hey all the defensive secondary is limping" and Schotty calls a quarterback sneak because that is what's next in the gameplan...? Damn, my brow is sweating again, and I think I've developed an eye twitch...

When all is said and done, it really isn't fair to judge what 'Schotty" will do for the Rams based on what he did for the Jets. They are two different teams, with vastly varied rosters. I'll leave you with two things for you to consider, one of them is a video courtesy of GGN, and the other is a response I gave TST's own "Infemous", who had a minor meltdown last night when he heard the news that Brian Schottenheimer had been hired:

"I have mixed feelings about the hire. I think Fisher could have spent a bit more time with other candidates before jumping for Schottenheimer. The things I’ve been reading from Jets fans is disturbing to say the least. BUT, the best observation I read reminded me that coaches can go from bum to brilliant with a change of scenery. Look at Gailey, the HC of Buffalo. He did awesome things as a coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steeler (‘94-’97), then was run out of town by Dallas, Miami and Kansas City. This year, look what a great job he has done for Buffalo. They are a couple of draft picks away from being a very good team indeed. I guess what I’m saying is two fold: First, if the deal is done, then we will see what we will see, and second – Don’t count any coach out, because sometimes all they need is to find the right fit and have a fresh start. Infemous, you’re a good guy. You and I both know that whoever was hired for HC, OC, DC is going to have to earn the fans’ respect after all we’ve been through. Unlike Spags when he was hired, we will doubt Fisher first before believing in what he does – Same with Brian and Williams. There will be no carte blanche for this staff as far as fans are concerned. What I do know is that we are Rams fans, and we’ll cheer them on no matter who is leading them… Cheers!"