Sometimes you can be capable at one job and not be capable of a job with greater responsibility. Take Brian Schottenheimer. He did a nice job as Chargers quarterbacks coach. Drew Brees looked like a lost cause early in his career. With Schottenheimer's help, he turned things around. When Brian became offensive coordinator of the Jets, however, he proved not up to the task.
The numbers speak for themselves. In his six years as offensive coordinator, 61% of teams in the league had more productive offenses than the Jets. Schottenheimer worked under two head coaches. He had four starting quarterbacks. He had rosters with different skillsets. It never worked for him over any extended stretch.
What might be most telling is the "proof" many of his defenders use of his ability. They say the offense was productive the first three quarters of 2008 when Brett Favre was healthy. If this is the best evidence of his ability, the case is closed. Failing for five and a quarter years and producing when given one of the greatest quarterbacks ever doesn't make a great offensive coach.
The play calling was frequently nonsensical. Take the home game against the Patriots in 2011. There was one stretch where the Jets ran it three straight times for 18 combined yards. What did Schottenheimer do the next play? He went shotgun, five wide. It resulted in a sack. The call defied logic. A good coach exploits things in his favor. In this case, his running game was blowing the other team away. He could have kept it on the ground. He could have called a play action pass, gotten the safeties to bite, and given his receivers a favorable matchup. This was all on the table. Instead, he threw these advantages away and abandoned any pretense of a run. Even if that play had worked, it would not have been about the call. Coaches don't deserve credit for throwing darts at a board. The sad thing is I could have substituted about 200 similar stories over Schottenheimer's tenure for this one to explain how frustrating his offense was to watch. He just did not understand how to play to his advantages.
At the end of the year, fans took part in a fake debate. Some said Mark Sanchez was the problem with the offense. Others said it was Schottenheimer. Truthfully it was both of them. The status quo could not be maintained. Schottenheimer had to go. While Sanchez certainly did not impress in 2011 and enters 2012 with enormous question marks, he has only been a quarterback for three years and only had one coordinator groom him. You can make a strong case that he can be fixed. Schottenheimer had a lot more chances, was given every scenario imaginable, and failed each time.
The Jets turned his dismissal into a drawn out fiasco, and the search for a replacement was unsatisfying. With that said, simply making a change was the best move of the offseason. Anybody who thinks getting rid of Schottenheimer will magically turn the offense into a productive one could be in for a rude awakening. I can say with much confidence, however, there was no way the offense was going to get better without a change.