Schottenheimer: 'This Was the Best Place for Me'

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After the Jets completed their head coaching search and selected Rex Ryan as their new leader, Brian Schottenheimer experienced a normal human reaction.

"It was obviously very disappointing," Schottenheimer acknowledged today in a conference call with New York reporters. "I think the people here should be disappointed if I wasn't disappointed."

Schotty, who was originally hired as the team's offensive coordinator by former Jets head coach Eric Mangini on Jan. 20, 2006, thought he should be the man to replace Mangini and he surely made a compelling case to the Jets' hierarchy. 

But  after a thorough process, the Jets chose Ryan. Ironically, prior to the 2007 season, the Baltimore Ravens interviewed Ryan for their head coaching position, but they tabbed outsider John Harbaugh instead.

Ryan wasn't happy with that decision initially, but he remained on Harbaugh's staff and the defensive coordinator gained valuable experience as an assistant head coach. So after Ryan had his introductory press conference here in New York, he met up with Schotty and the two discussed a future together.

"He and I have very similar backgrounds, both growing up in coaching families," Schottenheimer said. "When we sat down and had a chance to visit, it felt right. He had been in my situation the year before in Baltimore and it's always good to have people who've gone through the same experiences that you've had because they understand things."

Already under contract, Schottenheimer reviewed his situation and determined he should remain with the Jets.

"What is in the best interests of my family? What is in the best interests of my career? After I sat back and took the disappointment out of it, my family and I feel very comfortable here in the New York area," he said. "I feel very good about the product that we've put out on the field and I like the fact that we have things in place here."

The offensive staff has changed at a couple of spots. Running backs coach Anthony Lynn and wide receivers coach Henry Ellard have replaced Jimmy Raye, who was hired by Mike Singletary as the new 49ers offensive coordinator, and Noel Mazzone respectively.

"As of now, we're just really going to focus on what do we do well, what can we improve, what do we truly want the product on the field to look like and then as we move forward and more decisions are made, we can adjust the plan," Schotty said. "But you have to have a starting point and I think that's our starting point."

While Schottenheimer said he'd "welcome the opportunity to coach Brett [Favre] again," he is pleased that both Kellen Clemens and Brett Ratliff have valuable experience in his system.

"I think both those guys have some upside. I love the fact that they have been in the system. That does help because they can kind of read your mind," Schottenheimer said. "You can spend more time coaching them on the fundamentals and things that might help them reach a new level in terms of footwork and accuracy and things like that."

Many in the media have speculated about Favre's future, but he has yet to make his plans known to the Jets. Both Clemens, who started eight games in 2006, and Ratliff, who performed very well last summer, have been frequent off-season visitors to the Atlantic Health Training Center.

"They're both in the building already. They're around. They didn't leave to go some place else so they're working out, they're trying to keep themselves in good shape," said the Jets offensive coordinator. "I think we have a good stable of young players and again I'm including the quarterbacks."

If Favre does retire, the Jets could bring in another veteran to compete with Clemens and Ratliff or just for insurance. But one thing's certain — Schottenheimer won't have to start anew like he did last August when the Jets acquired Favre in a trade with the Green Bay Packers.

"It really was give and take. We adjusted as a staff some, Brett adjusted some, the other players adjusted," he said. "We had to change the way we called a few things because that's what Brett had called it for so many years. To give the other players credit, they never blinked and I hold them in great respect for that."

Despite faltering down the stretch, the Green & White under Schottenheimer's guidance totaled 405 points last season — the third-highest total in Jets history —and 48 touchdowns — the second-most TDs in franchise history. The Jets' 25.3 points per game and 125.2 rush yards per game both ranked ninth in the league.

Now with the disappointment gone, Schottenheimer is more than content to be part of another Jets season.

"After the smoke cleared," he said, "I really thought this was the best place for me."

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