Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC West [Print without images]

Monday, January 16, 2012
Schottenheimer and Rams' offensive future

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Frustrated New York Jets fans might chuckle over the St. Louis Rams' interest in their team's ousted offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, for the same job in St. Louis.

Frustrated Miami Dolphins fans might feel similarly about the Jets hiring their team's former coach, Tony Sparano, as offensive coordinator.

Such is life in the NFL, where the scapegoats are often indistinguishable from the true villains. Was Schottenheimer the reason the Jets' offense went backward and the team finished 8-8? Tough to say.

Rams fans should know this: The Jets were not yet ready to cut ties with struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez. They weren't going to fire head coach Rex Ryan. They weren't going to stand pat, either, after their offense plummeted in the league rankings and Sanchez failed to develop on schedule.

Schottenheimer, once an occasional head coaching candidate, was the odd man out.

For the Rams, hiring Schottenheimer would return them to the general digit-based offensive system St. Louis ran with great success during the Mike Martz years. Sam Bradford would be learning a third scheme in three pro seasons. Then again, if Bradford had pleaded with Fisher to retain the previous system, the Rams could have kept Josh McDaniels, in theory.

Those seeking a better feel for Schottenheimer's coaching roots and what happened with Sanchez should check out Jenny Vrentas' piece in the Newark Star-Ledger from October. Basically, the Jets were asking more from Sanchez this season, and the results were insufficient.

Schottenheimer began his pro coaching career with the Rams in 1997, spent several years in the college ranks and then hit stride at the NFL level with San Diego beginning in 2002. He worked under Cam Cameron there, serving as quarterbacks coach for Drew Brees.

The Jets hired Schottenheimer in 2006. Reading through the ESPN.com story at the time will show just how circular these coaching hires can be. Fisher's former coordinator in Tennessee, Mike Heimerdinger, preceded Schottenheimer with the Jets. Schottenheimer beat out another familiar name, Pat Shurmur, for the Jets job.

The Rams appear unlikely to hire Schottenheimer or anyone else as coordinator without first making official Fisher's hiring as head coach. The sides are working out the particulars on a contract.

The chart shows Jets offensive stats under Schottenheimer. Sanchez was the quarterback for the three most recent seasons, when completion percentages fell.