The ability of Schottenheimer, ’ offensive coordinator, to keep a level head this week while facing especially strong criticism after Saturday’s 29-14 loss to the Giants is a testament in a football family and his even-keeled personality.
“You’ve got to just roll with the punches,” he said.
Schottenheimer acknowledged that in hindsight the disparity between passing plays (67) and runs (25) against the Giants was problematic. When it came to the Jets’ overall offensive inconsistency this season, Schottenheimer did not shy away from blame.
“I’m the offensive coordinator,” he said. “If you’re going to talk about the inconsistencies, I have to own that responsibility.”
Schottenheimer added of the criticism: “It’s out of my control. I’m an excellent football coach. Have we been inconsistent this year? Absolutely. I wish I could put my finger on it and say exactly why that was. There’s things that clearly I could do better and the unit could do better. But you don’t have time to worry about it.”
With one game and an improbable shot at the playoffs remaining, the Jets (8-7) will attempt to establish their ground game more effectively on Sunday, even against a tough rushing defense like Miami’s.
Against the Giants, Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson combined to run only 19 times despite averaging 4.95 yards per carry. Mark Sanchez threw — and kept throwing — for 8.6 yards per completion, with two interceptions.
Tomlinson defended the play-calling, saying coordinators always seem to receive the most scrutiny when a team is not performing well. He also said he appreciated that Schottenheimer stood up before the team and acknowledged making some mistakes.
“We all have things we want to get back,” Tomlinson said, adding that not a game or practice goes by that he does not wish for a second chance at something. “We’re human.”
“It’s not Brian’s fault,” he said. “Brian is not on the field, he’s on the sideline calling plays. We have to execute the plays.”
This season, — 239 rushes for 999 yards and 6 touchdowns — are all career highs. But the Jets are second to last in the A.F.C. in rushing average at 3.8 yards per attempt after finishing in the top five the last two seasons. Their 104.2 yards per game is 22nd in the N.F.L.
For Tomlinson, who has a flair for the dramatic, there may be some extra incentive to put on a show at Sun Life Stadium: at age 32 and finishing his 11th season, he said there was a possibility he could retire at the end of the year.
“This possibly could be my last game,” said Tomlinson, who will be a free agent at the end of the season. “I’m just going to see what happens.”
The rank third in the N.F.L. in rushing defense and are not far from setting a club record for fewest yards allowed on the ground (1,430 in 1994). They are not as proficient against the pass; they have allowed 249.8 yards per game.
So the temptation might be to throw — and keep throwing — but Coach Rex Ryan said there was “no way” as many passes would be attempted. Schottenheimer concurred.
“That’s not how we’re at our best,” Schottenheimer said. “We know that.”
The Jets’ running game had some effective moments in the earlier game against Miami on Oct. 17, when they ran 29 times for 104 yards. There have also been no real signs that the ground game was sputtering as it did at the end of last season, when injuries took a toll on the offensive line in December.
So once again, the Jets will lean on their running game, just as they did the last time Ryan came down on the team’s offensive performance, after a loss to Baltimore on Oct. 2. Greene ran 21 times in each of the next two games.
“Everybody’s got to hold themselves accountable, that’s the biggest thing,” guard Brandon Moore said. “Knowing that you’re doing everything you can to make sure you’ve got everything covered.”
Before practice Thursday, Ryan gathered his team at midfield for a pep talk, a rare display in front of the news media to talk about things he said had been on his mind.
“I just wanted to remind them of the opportunity that’s in front of us,” Ryan said. “This is a little different. The last two years we haven’t really been in this position.”
Without one last good overall offensive showing Sunday, the position will not get any more comfortable.