As the Indianapolis Colts continue to go through the process of landing their next head coach, precious time and coaches could be getting out of reach as time passes without an agreement. We’ve seen multiple team coaches take interviews and get hired by other organizations such as Tom McMahon, their special teams coach the past several seasons.
Joe Philbin has accepted the offensive coordinator position with the Green Bay Packers, and today we have learned that Colts quarterbacks coach, Brian Schottenheimer, has taken an interview with the Seattle Seahawks for their OC position. There was a belief that Schotty would be a better fit to hold Russell Wilson more accountable than how the team felt former OC Darrell Bevell did.
Brian Schottenheimer's #NFL career took off when he was QB coach for Brees. It stagnated when he was OC for Sanchez under Ryan and then for Bradford under Fisher when Bradford twice tore ACL. Each time, Schottenheimer was judged by end results. Illogical, but how league works.— Mike Sando, ESPN.com (@SandoESPN) January 11, 2018
He was able to take an offense led by Chad Pennington to a 10-6 record and a trip to the playoffs, in which Pennington completed nearly 65% of his attempts, in 2006 with the Jets. He was also able to improve Pennington’s completion rate to nearly 69% the following season and win 3 games with Kellen Clemons when injury dictated it.
Brett Favre came in the following season to New York at 39 years of age, and Schotty was able to mix up enough rhythm throws with a solid downfield attack that earned a very blah set of receivers (Jericho Cotchery, Laveranues Coles) some solid stats and scores. Schotty mixed in a quality run game at the time using Thomas Jones over 1,300 yards. In this 2008 season, the Jets knocked off the Patriots, put up 3 30-point games, 1 40-point output and a 56-point drubbing of the Arizona Cardinals.
Not bad for a ‘non-aggressive’ play-caller.
In 2009 Schotty was saddled with Mark Sanchez, and while he was a massive issue for the offense with his awful accuracy issues, he was able to get Sanchez’ touchdowns up (+5) and his interceptions down (-7) in his second season working in Schottenheimer’s system. That play-calling was enough to beat the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots en route to the conference championship, in spite of a lack of quarterback competency.
Sanchez’s stats would continue to rise under Schottenheimer, and although minimal, I think that has to be some of his best work. Schotty was then on to the Rams and had Sam Bradford to work with during Bradford’s third year in the league.
Bradford, at the time, had achieved his best season in terms of touchdowns and passing yardage with Schotty calling the plays, and that improved in their second season together until Bradford failed to play more than 7 games in that 2013 season. Bradford was working on his best touchdown percentage, lowest interception rate and most passing yards per game of his career before being lost for the season.
Finally, Schottenheimer was able to get seasons of at least 63.3% completion rates, and 20 total touchdowns out of Austin Davis and Shaun Hill in 2014 as he was able to scrape together 6 wins with those two under center for an entire season.
So now that we have looked a bit closer at his background, is Schotty really a poor choice as OC for the Colts? I’ve made no attempt to hide how much I like what he was able to do with Andrew Luck — fine-tuning his footwork, eye discipline and simple mechanics — previous to, and during the 2016 season in which Luck put together arguably his best all-around year as a Colt. You can call me a fan if you like.
But, possibly even more impressive is what he’s done with Jacoby Brissett in a season in which Luck wasn’t able to ever get on the field and Scott Tolzien was the only option at one point. Brissett had all of the tools but was very raw as a starter this season, however, Schotty crammed enough into Brissett’s head each week to have him prepared to start and give the Colts a reasonable chance to win in most of those matchups.
This search for the Colts next head coach has left some uncertainty regarding who, if anyone, would be retained and it’s been said that Chris Ballard left no assurances to the team’s position coaches and coordinators. Schottenheimer would be, for me, an intelligent piece to keep around in either an elevated QB coach role or as the team’s OC, especially with an offensive play-caller at the helm in order to keep some crucial continuity between the quarterbacks and their QB mechanic.
He and Luck have a great relationship and have maintained that, while it appears that the same goes for Brissett. The longer this drags on, the likelihood that any coaches from the past regime stick around becomes very thin — and for the most part that’s a great thing. Schottenheimer doesn’t fit into that category for me.
Not only is he an asset with the existing quarterback, he’s proven his worth in development in a group of coaches who have done quite the opposite. Additionally, he would offer an offensive minded HC the option of handing over play-calling if the offense was ever to stall and become predictable under the current gameplan — much like we saw from Andy Reid and Matt Nagy towards the end of the season in Kansas City.
Finally, to be perfectly honest, pending the outcome of the current head coaching hires around the league, most of those getting OC interviews are among an average grouping in terms of experience and talent. Schottenheimer is a guy who I’ve described as a possible head coach candidate once he nails an OC job in the near future. He could be getting that chance with the Seahawks, or he could be getting that opportunity with the Colts.
The Colts would be wise to suggest that the new coach hang on to him, as his knowledge, ability to get results from lesser talent and his work ethic is widely respected around the league. The Colts could do a lot worse than Brian Schottenheimer.