When the Jets last played the Dolphins at home, a group of angry fans outside the post-game interview room chanted during Rex Ryan’s press conference.
“Schotty must go!”
The Jets lost that day, 10-6, and most of the blame went to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who later admitted he heard the derisive chant. If they produce another stinker Monday night, the fans will be calling for Schottenheimer’s head once again.
“I’m always on the hot seat,” Schottenheimer said Friday. “I’ve been on the hot seat for six years. It’s part of the deal and if you spend any time worrying about that stuff, you’re not doing your job because it’s going to be out there.”
This time, the dissatisfaction is coming from the Jets’ locker room. G Brandon Moore fired back Friday at WR Santonio Holmes, who called out the offensive line on two occasions. WR Derrick Mason also made critical comments about the offense, and he was traded to the Texans.
This is all happening on Schottenheimer’s watch.
“We’ve lost three games in a row, guys are frustrated, guys are looking for answers, they all want answers,” Schottenheimer said. “We have a lot of dialogue, we have a lot of things we talk about … I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been able to handle tough times in the past.”
It’s never been tougher than this. A published report last Sunday claimed that Mason, Holmes and Plaxico Burress went to Ryan to complain about Schottenheimer’s system. The Jets issued a statement, refuting the report.
“Obviously, I was made aware of it, and once Rex said it was untrue, then I obviously had no concerns about it,” Schottenheimer said.
Ryan has maintained his staunch support of Schottenheimer.
“Brian is an excellent coach, one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever been around,” he said. “We have complete confidence in him, and all our coaches.”
Schottenheimer received criticism for his conservative game plan in last week’s loss to the Patriots. Facing the league’s worst pass defense, the Jets decided to go back to their Ground & Pound rushing attack, balancing run and pass.
Their running game showed signs of improvement, but the offense produced seven three-and-outs in 11 possessions. They also didn’t attempt any passes longer than 22 yards. Schottenheimer defended the game plan. Unlike Holmes, he didn’t blame the offensive line for the pass-protection issues. He believes the offense is close to realizing its potential.
“There are a lot of flashes of really, really good things,” he said. “But when you go out and you do silly things … and I’ll take my fair share of blame for those. I’m ultimately accountable. That, I think, is what’s frustrating.”
RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who knows Schottenheimer from their days together with the San Diego Chargers, said it’s unfair to blame the offensive coordinator for the offensive struggles.
“I hope that’s the feeling (around the team), it should be,” Tomlinson said. “If we want to be champions like we say we want to be, we have to hold each other accountable as players, and not blame it on the coaches all the time. We have to get the job done."
The Jets are ranked 28th in total offense and 13th in scoring, but the once-vaunted running attack has stalled and the offense has produced a total of only 405 yards in the last two games.
As a result, the pressure is mounting on Schottenheimer. His father, Marty, was a longtime NFL coach, so he grew up in the business and learned to develop a thick skin. As a kid, he learned the “midnight rule” from his father: Win or lose, get over it by midnight. Schottenheimer said his mother will text “midnight rule” to him after tough games, a reminder.
But that doesn’t block out the chants.
“Obviously, the people that say they don’t hear it are lying,” he said.