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Is It 1994 All Over Again?

"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

-George Santayana

Brian Schottenheimer finds himself right in the mix to become the next head coach of the Jets. This would be a stunning move on a number of levels. It is enough to make a Jets fan scream. It is also a test of whether this franchise can learn from the mistakes of the past. Woody Johnson and Mike Tannebaum were not around fifteen years ago, but in hiring Schottenheimer, they would be making the exact same mistake as their predecessors. The similarities of this situation to that of the coaching change that took place following the 1993 season are striking.

Bruce Coslet received a pink slip after that 1993 season. His Jets had collapsed, losing their last three to miss the Playoffs. A single win would have put Gang Green in the postseason. It was a disappointing end to what seemed to be a promising era. Coslet was hired as an up and coming assistant. He had taken the Jets to a surprising Playoff season two years before his dismissal. However, things turned sour in his second to last season in New York in which the Jets finished 4-12. The third season had high expectations as the Jets brought in a veteran Super Bowl quarterback. That time the quarterback was Boomer Esiason. Gang Green got off to a great start, but that collapse cost the coach his job.

Fans were not pleased with the job Coslet did, but the pick for his successor was stunning. The Jets' front office went the internal route and promoted their young defensive coordinator. In this case, it was Pete Carroll. This move made no sense. Carroll's defense had blown a 21 point lead against the Eagles, a 17 point lead against the Raiders, and been humiliated by Houston's backup quarterback in the final week of the season in a game that meant everything to the Jets but nothing to the Oilers. Carroll deserved a heaping portion of the blame for Coslet losing his job. However, the Jets rewarded him was a promotion. They looked past actual results and focused only on a few traits they liked, such as his winning personality.

Predictably, Carroll's tenure as head coach was a disaster. He commanded no respect in the locker room. Players did not take him seriously. The Jets suffered an even greater collapse in 1994 under Carroll than they had under Coslet the year before. It was the year of the Marino fake spike. Most people remember the play. Few remember the Jets led that game 24-6 at one point and would not win again for the rest of that season. Pete deservedly received a pink slip after just one year on the job. He eventually found great success, but it was not in the NFL. After another disastrous pro coaching stint in New England, USC hired him. His enthusiasm and sunny disposition are a perfect fit for the college game, where recruiting and motivating players are the most important tasks for a coach.

Fifteen years later, the Jets are in a similar position. They just fired a coach for having a late season collapse, and one of his coordinators, who was one of the chief culprits, is a guy they are considering to promote. He seems to have overwhelmed the front office with his knowledge of X's and O's. Results are secondary. Schottenheimer would be an awful choice. As offensive coordinator, his philosophy was the unexpected is a better option than what works best. Even if a defense knows the run is coming on third and one, it is more likely to succeed than spreading the field and throwing it from the shotgun. Schottenheimer wanted to show everybody how smart he was and how far outside the box he could think at the expense of common sense. A guy with this little understanding of the game is not ready to become head coach. The Jets may be impressed, but seeing two words should shock them back to reality, Pete Carroll.