Brian Schottenheimer May Be on His Way out of St. Louis, but Does It Matter?

Tyson LanglandNFC West Lead WriterJanuary 11, 2013

Aug 25, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; St Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer on the sidelines during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

From the beginning of Brian Schottenheimer's tenure in St. Louis, fans and media members alike knew there was a distinct possibility that the son of Marty Schottenheimer would indeed have the opportunity to coach an NFL team one day.

No one knew when that time would come, but many felt that joining Jeff Fisher's staff was the correct move for the 39-year-old play-caller. Under Fisher, he would have the opportunity to be surrounded by a great staff and most importantly, would have the job security he didn't have in New York.

Everyone knows that Schottenheimer has immense play-calling skills. Just look at his time when he was with the New York Jets. With Mark Sanchez under center, he wasn't given the most quarterback-friendly situation.

It's no secret that the Jets overdrafted Sanchez with the fifth overall pick in 2009. Yet that didn't stop Schottenheimer from helping No. 6 grow into a better quarterback annually. In the chart below you can see the natural progression he made from Year 1 to Year 3.

Not to mention during that three-year span his offense's average finish based on total yards was about 18th. This year, the Jets offense without him finished 30th in the league, and Sanchez had a year that was statistically comparable to his rookie season. He threw for 2,883 yards with 13 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

We all knew that the Jets were foolish for getting rid of him and hiring Tony Sparano. But it was clear Woody Johnson, Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum needed a scapegoat and Schottenheimer was that scapegoat.

It didn't matter for Tannenbaum, he was eventually fired for not building a sound roster and putting the Jets in salary cap hell. Miraculously, Ryan found a way to salvage his job for at least another year amidst a 6-10 record. 

While Ryan fired another scapegoat in Sparano after only one year—Schottenheimer, coincidentally enough, helped another quarterback have the best season of his young career. Sam Bradford started out strong as a rookie in 2010 under then-offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur by winning Rookie of the Year and breaking a couple of Peyton Manning's rookie records. 

Unfortunately, Shurmur bolted for the head coaching job in Cleveland and Josh McDaniels was brought in to help Bradford build upon his rookie season. Yet things never really got going with McDaniels in town. Bradford was hurt more often than not, and the team finished with a 2-14 record.

That eventually paved the way for Schottenheimer and the rest of Fisher's staff. Schottey helped St. Louis' offense greatly—it finished eight spots higher than it did in 2011, it scored 6.6 more points a game and scored 299 points, the most points the Rams have scored in a season since 2006.

Bradford's aerial assault included 3,702 yards through the air, 21 touchdown passes and only 13 interceptions. His quarterback rating was an impressive 82.6, he completed 59.5 percent of his passes and, according to the analysts at Pro Football Focus, he had one of the best deep balls in the game.

On throws of 20 yards or more downfield, he completed 42.3 percent of his passes—the 11th-best mark in the NFL. Moreover, he did it with a minimal 2.7 seconds to throw on average. That number put the Rams in the bottom half of the league.

Without a doubt, Schottenheimer has a way of improving offenses that have little or no talent to work with. Let's face it, neither the Jets or the Rams have been been loaded at the skill positions during his coaching stints with them.

All of this leads me to this question, does it matter if Schottenheimer leaves for Jacksonville or another head coaching vacancy?

Coach Fisher assured us that the offense wouldn't change if he does indeed leave:

Over-reaction by many in St. Louis. Jeff Fisher has said offense will not change if Brian Schottenheimer leaves.

— Howard Balzer (@HBalzer721) January 11, 2013

But is it an overreaction, or is Schottenheimer more than just someone who calls the plays? No one knows at this point, and we may not ever know because the Jaguars may choose to go in another direction.

Yet we do know one thing. We know that the evidence is there when making the case for Schottey as an offensive coordinator. He maximizes offenses that have a talent deficiency and he comes off as an intelligent football mind that can effectively teach.

So in short, it certainly would matter if he left St. Louis to become a head coach elsewhere.