Commentary

Schottenheimer talks Sanchez, Holmes

Jets play-caller gives first interview since AFC title game loss to the Steelers

Updated: June 3, 2011, 8:16 AM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

With Mark Sanchez & Co. not around, New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has found a new team to coach -- the Cubs.

His 6-year-old son's baseball team in New Jersey.

"I'm looking forward to getting back [to football], but for now, I'm coaching Little League and having a blast," Schottenheimer told ESPNNewYork.com on Wednesday in his first interview with the news media since the Jets' loss in the AFC Championship Game.

[+] EnlargeBrian Schottenheimer
Alan Maglaque/US PresswireSchottenheimer stayed quiet after the tough title-game loss.

Schottenheimer has maintained an unusually low profile since coming under fire for his play calling in the title game and being called out afterward by wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who was upset that he didn't start. He also presides over one of the most talked-about offenses in the NFL, what with the Randy Moss rumors, the Jets' big-name free agents at wide receiver and the always-compelling development of his young quarterback.

With all that swirling, the affable Schottenheimer stayed silent -- until Wednesday, when he put a positive spin on just about everything.

He defended his play-calling against the Pittsburgh Steelers, claimed he smoothed things over with Holmes the day after the game and insisted he has no concerns about the lockout impeding the progress of Sanchez. He believes the young QB, whom Schottenheimer tutored daily last offseason, will continue his ascent to elite status.

"I'm sure his eyes are bright red from all the film he's been looking at," Schottenheimer said.

Because of the lockout, coaches are prohibited from communicating with players. That's a dramatic change for Schottenheimer and Sanchez, who have grown so close that they shared late-night strategy conversations during the season.

Schottenheimer said Sanchez has gained enough experience in two seasons that, as a coordinator, he can take a step back and be like a "golf coach" -- providing a sounding board should problems arise.

If Schottenheimer is fretting the potential losses of Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith, all of whom are unsigned, he did a good job of hiding it.

"Growing up as a coach's kid, I learned your roster changes all the time," said Schottenheimer, whose father, Marty, was a longtime NFL coach and is currently a UFL coach. "Moving forward, we hope to get some good players back. Whoever we get, we'll coach."

Perhaps their most important free agent -- Holmes -- made headlines by complaining about his playing time in Pittsburgh. In April, he still was chafed, telling reporters he was "very upset" and believes it contributed to the team's awful first half of the conference title game.

Schottenheimer explained that he wasn't down on Holmes, that he simply decided to start the game in a personnel grouping that didn't include him. The coordinator admitted he should've done a better job of explaining that to Holmes.

"It's unfortunate he felt like we weren't trying to start him," he said. "Maybe I could've communicated to him better, but there was nothing done out of being malicious. When you have so many good players, you try to rotate guys through in different personnel packages. Believe me, we'd be crazy to not play the guy. That's why you saw him in there 19 of the first 24 or 25 snaps."

Schottenheimer said he discussed the issue with Holmes the day after the game, adding, "We left on good terms. I love the guy. He's one of my favorite competitors out there. I enjoy coaching him."

That was a difficult game for Schottenheimer, whose offense was a no-show in the first half and later failed to score on four straight goal-line plays. He was heavily criticized for his play-calling -- two rushes, two passes -- but he refused to second-guess any of the calls, even though he admitted the game is "hard to watch" on video.

"[Criticism] comes with the chair," he said. "Like I said in the past, I know I'm damn good at what I do."

He does have one regret from the game.

"For as much grief as I took on the goal-line stop, the play I'd like to have back is the third-and-17, when we had the sack/fumble," he said, referring to a Sanchez fumble that was returned for a touchdown before halftime. "We guessed wrong, thinking they'd play a little softer and they came after us. That's one I'd like to have back."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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