Brian Schottenheimer's job could be on the line against division-rival (0-4) Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football this week.
In his sixth season as Jets' offensive coordinator, the 37-year-old is currently taking a lot of criticism from fans and media alike for his conservative playcalling. And it isn't the first time "Schottey" has been in danger of losing his job.
Last Sunday, the Jets threw only 26 times against the Patriots; the team that fields the league's worst pass defense (giving up 326.6 yards per game). Instead, Schottenheimer elected to rush 25 times for only 97 yards. His offensive unit struggled and faced many "three-and-out" scenarios — failing to take chances when the potential win was in reach against a defense that is known for giving up big-yardage plays.
The end result from his conservative gameplan and the team's poor play was their third consecutive loss.
The writing is on the wall: The Jets coaching staff continues to push its “ground and pound” mantra—as they announced after the loss to Baltimore Ravens—but the team ranks second-to-last in rushing yards (76.2) and No. 28 in total offense (297.4 yards per game).
Adjustments are clearly needed, as the Jets offense is visibly flawed right now. They do not run well outside of the tackles or utilize misdirections and gadget plays as they did in previous years. Instead, the offensive unit elects to run right up the middle out of the classic I-formation, behind a mediocre offensive line that isn't the same as it was with former offensive linemen Alan Faneca and Damien Woody.
And what happened to the Jets highly-potent play-action passing game? The team used it effectively in the '09 and '10 postseasons to carry themselves to back-to-back AFC Championship games. But without a run game this year, the play-action passing has been seemingly nonexistent.
So are the Jets' problems tied to Schottey's predictable "run-run-pass" gameplan? Is it the OCs reluctance to allow QB Mark Sanchez to air the ball out down the field and test opposing secondaries? Or has this Jets' team regressed in the trenches—on both sides of the ball—considerably? The team was completely out-muscled and punched in the mouth by the Raiders, Ravens and Patriots (a finesse team) in its last three games.
I took to the Twitterverse to tackle these very questions, and here is the feedback its users provided:
@NYJSwagger says the playcalling is too predictable and that defenses know what to expect:
@ERiveraJets believes there are deeper issues on the Jets team, and that Schottey should be judged in the offseason:
@LaPortal says the problem lies in Schottenheimer's preparation:
@TheBigLead's Jason McIntyre tweeted some thoughts during the third quarter of the Jets loss to the Patriots. He said Schottenheimer needed to work with an empty backfield set more and let Sanchez operate out of the shotgun:
Even former RT Damien Woody shared his thoughts on the Jets' struggling run game:
QB Mark Sanchez called in to ESPN Radio's "The Michael Kay Show" on Tuesday. He informed the public that the players stand behind Schottenheimer:
"That's an easy out for fans and critics, but that's fine," Sanchez said. "When you don't play well, people are going to let you know what they think and how they feel ... but I am totally behind Brian, and all the coaches and players are as well."
Conclusion: Schottenheimer is on the hot seat and his every move is going to be scrutinized until the conclusion of the 2011 season.
Schottenheimer was a great fit for the '09 and '10 Jets teams, but this unit has a new identity and his playcalling is too conservative to fit their abilities. There is still a lot of time left in the '11 season, but I predict this will be his last season as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets.
There are small-market teams such as the Jaguars and Rams that could be in pursuit of a new head coach in 2012. While Schottey's run-heavy schemes may not be working out well for the Jets, it's possible that one of those two teams could come calling.
And don't sleep on those Dolphins, either. After Nick Saban departed from the organization in 2007, there were whispers of Schottenheimer taking his talents to South Beach and filling the head coaching job. But it never came to fruition and he stayed with Gang Green.
As it stands, Monday night's game will be a big one for the Jets offensive coordinator. It would be wise to throw the football more, as Miami's secondary ranks second-to-last against the pass and is giving up 307 yards per game.
The people have spoken. They're watching you, Schottey.