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Brian Schottenheimer Says Goodbye

Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that they will hire former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano to run the offense next season.

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Jan 11, 2012  |  Updated 8:16 AM EDT
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Did Brian Schottenheimer get pushed out the window or did he jump?

Based on the statement the Jets released late on Tuesday night, they would have you believe that he decided to give up his offensive coordinator position with two more years on his contract of his own volition.

He isn't going to get a head coaching job, but, to read the statement, it seems Schotty will be content to just stroll the Earth looking for adventure. 

"After much thought and consideration, I have decided not to return to the New York Jets in 2012," said Schottenheimer. "I am very proud of what we have accomplished in the six years I have been here.  I am grateful for the relationships that I have with our players and coaches and appreciate the hard work and dedication that went into our success. My family and I would like to thank Rex Ryan and the entire Jets organization and wish them continued success.  I look forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead."

It almost sounds like a human being would actually say that! If Schotty really just decided Tuesday that he was ready for the "exciting opportunities that lie ahead," it was a stroke of the best luck that a franchise not known for good luck has ever experienced.

No, this wasn't luck but a well-designed firing that feels like a simple parting of ways much like the mythical mutual breakup where everyone leaves the relationship with warm feelings about everybody else.

The Jets get rid of a coach whose continued presence was going to make it impossible for them to move forward from the mess of this season and Schottenheimer gets to get fired without actually having to deal with the ugliness that comes up when people lose their jobs.

The softness of the firings was right in line with the softness of the expressions of support that came from the Jets last week as they hoped that someone would swoop in and bail them out of Schottenheimer's contract.

Ultimately, there was never a chance Schotty would stay and whatever it cost was worth it to start the process of building for 2012.

So one offensive coordinator is out and it looks like the Jets already have the next one lined up. Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that they will hire former Dolphins coach Tony Sparano to run the offense next season.

Sparano called plays in Dallas for one season, but he has never been an offensive coordinator before. His background is as an offensive line coach, which is significant with the Jets also losing Bill Callahan on Tuesday, and that could signal a return to the more run-centric identity that the Jets abandoned last season.

It spoke well of Sparano that he never lost the Dolphins after last season's 0-7 start, but there are some concerns here. While finding a real offensive identity is a good thing, Sparano's Miami teams were conservative enough to garner a few votes in the upcoming South Carolina primary.

What's more, the team was never able to develop Chad Henne into a competent quarterback so, at the very least, the Jets need to look for someone to be a passing/quarterback guru to help push Mark Sanchez forward. There's still work to be done, in other words.

And when that work is done, the Jets will look different and Ryan will find that coaching them is different. Schottenheimer has always been an easy target that could bear the brunt of criticism while Ryan got to play at other things.

That buffer is gone and coaches don't get to hire different coordinators to stand in the line of fire without having to face the bullets themselves. The move is incredibly popular right now, but if the Jets are scuffling along in October you don't get any points for making the right move in January.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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