Rams coach Jeff Fisher feels fortunate to have Brian Schottenheimer.
With Sam Bradford as the face of his franchise, Fisher felt it necessary to find an offensive coordinator who had experience, a successful track record and a knack for developing young quarterbacks.
Schottenheimer, the scapegoat for the Jets' offensive failures last season, ultimately was run out of town two years before his contract was set to expire. But he's found a new home in St. Louis and the support of his head coach.
"His knowledge, his experience and the success he had there in New York," Fisher said, via conference call Wednesday, explaining his reasons for hiring Schottenheimer. "When you're putting together a new football team and developing a young, talented quarterback like Sam, you've got to first start with the run game. And I think statistically, the Jets' run production over the years while Brian was there speaks for itself."
The Jets possessed the league's top running game in 2009 (Mark Sanchez's first year as quarterback), averaging 172.2 per game. But as they shuffled new receivers in and out, they strayed from their ground-and-pound focus, finishing fourth (148.4) in average rushing yards in 2010 and 22nd in 2011. That, coupled with Sanchez's struggles in his third season, signaled the end of the Schotty Era in Florham Park.
Asked if he was surprised the Jets let go of Schottenheimer, Fisher expertly avoided controversy. "You know, what I was excited about was that he was available," he said. "And what happened in the past is the past, Brian's moved on, we've moved on together. We have a great staff, have a great working relationship and we expect to have a lot of success in the future."
Fisher said he brought in Schottenheimer for "a lot of different reasons," including his communication skills and experience cultivating young quarterbacks. "Everything that I heard about him is true, and more," the coach said. "He also is very gifted as far as the relationship with the quarterbacks."
Bradford ranks 19th in the NFL among quarterbacks with a 62.2 percent completion percentage, 230 passing-yard average, 10 touchdowns, seven interceptions and an 85.3 QB rating. Conversely, Sanchez has completed just 52 percent of his passes, averages 206.7 passing yards per contest, has 10 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 70.4 QBR.
Fisher also noted Schottenheimer's experience with the Jets defense is a plus -- but only to a degree. "Obviously, he's familiar, but if you guys pay close attention to what they do there, they change things weekly," he said. "They do some very unique and very difficult things to attack."
Fisher also touched on other topics during his conference call, including the Jets receivers and the much-maligned tackle Wayne Hunter:
The Rams coach called the Jets wide receiving corps "young, but productive" and said the group unfairly gets criticized. Fisher added that he has been "very, very impressed with Stephen Hill early on" and complimented the play of slot receiver Jeremy Kerley.
"So the group can make plays," the coach said. "It's just a matter of getting the football to them."
The Rams may be 3-5-1, but Hunter is enjoying the new change of scenery. Fisher said sending his former offensive lineman/backup tight end Jason Smith to the Jets in exchange for Hunter was a move that benefitted both players and teams.
"Wayne is versatile. Big, strong physical," Fisher said, adding that Hunter can play left and right tackle as well as guard. "We were committed to rebuilding this offensive line. ...Wayne gives us experience. ...He gives us a big guy we can trust."
The Jets have caught a few teams off-guard with their Tim Tebow-led fake punts, but Fisher said the Rams also share that aggressive philosophy.
"There are some teams that'll put a fake punt in and they'll practice it once a week and the players know they're never going to call it," he said. "And then there are teams that are going to install things and the players know they better be prepared to execute because it very likely will get called. And that's the approach that we have here."