Heat's on Schottenheimer; players defend him

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, right,

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, right, talks with Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer during the game against the Baltimore Ravens. (Sept. 13, 2010) (Credit: MCT )

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - As Rex Ryan trudged into the fishbowl inside the New Meadowlands Stadium Coaches Club, preparing to explain the Jets' latest debacle after their 10-6 loss to the Dolphins, the chants for Brian Schottenheimer's scalp grew loudly.

"Fire Schotty! Fire Schotty!"

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't hear it," the offensive coordinator said yesterday. "It's not the first time I've ever heard it. I don't have time to worry about it. I've looked at it from both sides, to be honest with you. I was in the stands when they chanted that about my father in Cleveland, and Kansas City, and San Diego.

"It comes with the territory. I know I'm a damn good football coach and good at what I do. We've had a lot of success here. Am I pleased? Absolutely not. Am I disappointed? Absolutely. All I can say is I'm going to do the best job I can, bust my --, and that's the message for the whole offense."

The only thing that's been busted lately is the offense, though. The Jets haven't had an offensive touchdown in nine-plus quarters, a span of more than 139 minutes of game action.

Their passing attack is anemic, averaging a modest 207 yards per game, 21st in the NFL. The Jets also are in the bottom half of the league in third-down conversion percentage at 72-for-192 (38 percent).

Schottenheimer's playcalling also has come under fire. On a rainy day, Mark Sanchez threw 44 times against Miami, and Schottenheimer was the one who called for him to spike the ball with 1:35 left after a critical 15-yard grab by Jerricho Cotchery on third-and-14 from the Jets' 32, something Rex Ryan said he thought was the wrong move.

There also was that headscratching decision to go to their Wildcat look on fourth-and-1 at Miami's 37 in the second quarter, and to have Brad Smith hand off to Shonn Greene, who was stuffed for no gain.

The players, however, believe their lack of execution should fall squarely on them.

"No doubt," fullback Tony Richardson said. "Obviously, Schotty has big shoulders and understands that's part of the nature of the business, but it's kind of disheartening. I sit in those meetings. I know the things Schotty is talking about, and the coaches are talking about, and then we go in the game and we mess it up, and it's a reflection on him and it's not fair."

LaDainian Tomlinson said: "The coach can't get out there and play. He calls the play and it's up to us to go out there and execute it. Earlier in the year, when we were putting up 30 points a game, everybody's like, 'Schotty's calling great plays,' and you heard that talk. Now, when we haven't scored a touchdown the last couple of games, 'It's Schotty's fault.'

"It isn't Schotty's fault. It's our fault. We need to play better. We need to make more things happen when we get the ball in our hands."

Said Schottenheimer: "I appreciate the guys saying that, but overall, I'm in charge of the offense, and with that, I take a lot of pride. I take a lot of pride in my job, I take a lot of pride in our unit, and we're not playing very well. It's my job to put the players in position to make plays.

"Do I think for a second that it's just the plays? No. But they come with the territory. We as a staff are not pleased. There's a lot of things that we need to do better as a group, players and coaches alike."

They better get it fixed quickly or those chants will increase.

"I'm used to it," Schottenheimer said. "It comes with the territory. Hopefully we win this game, hopefully we play really well against the Steelers, and now I can stay for another week. It is what it is."

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