What follows will fill you with dread. Or not. Really, it's hard to say what to think. And thus began every article written so far about Georgia's hire of Brian Schottenheimer as its new offensive coordinator.
This particular article however isn't about my take on the subject. Instead, I reached out to 3K and Doug, two of the writers from Turf Show Times, SB Nation's excellent St. Louis Rams' site, to find out their opinion of Schottenheimer generally, and how they think he might do in the college ranks. The verdict? Mixed. Because.....yeah.
MD: How do Rams fans feel about this? Did Georgia get a steal, or just relieve the Rams of the burden of firing the guy later.
3K: In short, Rams fans are just happy to move on from the Schottenheimer era. I don't think that's necessarily a fair gauge of his capability as an OC, but to get three years in the NFL and not have any real quantifiable improvements is justification enough for a change of scenery. So sure, there's a bit of relief from having to can him outright.
Doug: Rams fans are happy he's gone, but I don't think Georgia got a bad OC in Brian Schottenheimer. The problem with "Schotty" is his play calling, which can seem borderline transparent to NFL defenses. At the college level, I think he'll succeed. Another knock on him is his offense has a tendency to be overly complex to a few players. But you have to remember just how young the Rams have been since his arrival. The youngest roster in the NFL for the last couple years, he had a slew of guys trying to forget an ocean of different schemes, then fit into the speed of the NFL. Not an easy thing in the best of circumstances... I believe his scheme complexity was predicated on the NFL, so at the college level he'll still have a Pro-Style offense, but it will be pared down to fit players trying to transition from high school to college.
Is Mark Sanchez the best that can be said for his QB coaching? Or did he make the St. Louis QBs better?
3K: As to his QB coaching, for St. Louis he liked to keep things pretty risk-averse. As any Rams fan will tell you, the ball didn't get much air time under Schottey. Passes were often short, more often shorter, and most often not real passes at all but dump offs and checkdowns. Part of that has to be attributed to the WR corps and QB quality (as Sam Bradford missed the last season and a half), but the bottom line is that it certainly doesn't bear any scent of explosiveness or aggressiveness.
Doug: As far as I can tell, Schottenheimer did a great job with Mark Sanchez when he came into the NFL. It's quite possible the blame for Sanchez's fall had more to do with his lack of ability to grow as an NFL quarterback. Defensive coordinators in the NFL are down right scary. They pick players apart. Sanchez never evolved into a elite QB after being given the groundwork to succeed. His work with Sam Bradford was effected by a young quarterback having been pummeled by having a new OC the previous two years before Schottenheimer arrived. There's an argument to be made that he had to tear down what Bradford had learned and rebuild him. In fact, Bradford had just started to blossom when he was injured in 2013, and again in 2014.
"Pro-style" can mean a lot of things. What, specifically, have been the hallmarks of Schottenheimer's offense? Any unique wrinkles?
3K: The personnel shifted significantly in year two when the Rams drafted Tavon Austin and let Danny Amendola go. The run game is relatively straightforward and should really suit Nick Chubb well. Pass-wise, he likes to roll his QB out strongside and work the levels on the sideline similar to smash concepts (Editor's note: He's not the only one). I think Tavon's skills really crossed him up, and he wasn't quick to come up with functional ways to take advantage of his capabilities.
Doug: Schottenheimer has shown times where he can be inventive, but then he shrinks back to a conservative scheme at the oddest times? To my mind, his play calling isn't as bad as the players he chooses in certain situations. The Rams roster could have limited him to an extent, but inside the red zone, or on 3rd and long, he'd often call plays that looked short sighted. An example would be if the offense was running the ball well and about to score, he'd call a pass play directed toward the strength of a defense's coverage package. There were times where opposing defenses looked like they knew what was coming, and I think it had more to do what I mentioned earlier: Player choice for a given play.
Final thoughts on Schottenheimer? How do you see him performing at the college level?
Doug: My overall opinion of Brian Schottenheimer is he's a smart, knowledgeable coach. He's very polished in front of a camera, and his players respect him. I think his time in the NFL taxed him, especially his New York experience. Many forget he was a top name being mentioned as an NFL head coaching candidate not so long ago. But his future was tied to Sanchez in NYC... I think you have a guy who'll do an excellent job as an OC, and do even better as a recruiter. Schottenheimer may not have Rams' fan respect, but he's well thought of among his peers. He'll boost Georgia's number of players getting a look by NFL scouts if he endorses them. On the whole, I think U.G. got themselves a very good OC, and he'll do well against SEC defenses.
3K: Bottom line for you guys is...and I know Rams fans would kill me for saying this...I think he could really do well with you guys. He's a KISS-type coordinator, and with the talent you guys always put in the backfield, it does seem like a good fit both for him and for the program. Sure, much of it will come down to who's starting at QB for you guys in September, but you can be confident that Schottenheimer isn't going to push him overboard. Hell, if Kiffin can make it work at Bama...
In other words, Schottenheimer didn't work out for these guys, but a lot of that was related to things beyond his control. He's both the guy who helped develop Phillip Rivers and Drew Brees in San Diego, who got the Jets offense humming with a strong run game, and the guy who couldn't really get anything to work in St. Louis. When you bring an NFL guy to a college program you just never know whether you're getting Charlie Weis or Pete Carroll.
My sense is that Schottenheimer is young and energetic. He may very well see this as the route to a college head coaching job, and I like that ambition. He'll have, relative to the competition, far more talent at Georgia than he ever had in St. Louis (not even accounting for lousy injury luck).
Harvey Penick, the famous golf coach, used to say that there's a difference between confidence and optimism. Confidence is when you've done something before and know you can do it again. Optimism is when you've never accomished something, yet in the absence of empirical proof you still believe you'll succeed. Confidence tells Bubba Watson he can clear a water hazard 250 yards out on the fly. It's optimism when a 25 handicapper tries the same feat.
I'm confident Brian Schottenheimer can mold Brice Ramsey (and eventually Jacob Eason) into great quarterbacks. He's done that. It doesn't hurt that, like Mike Bobo before him, he'll have one of the preeminent college quarterback developers of the past 20 years as his boss. What remains to be seen is whether he can adapt his system, a system that was viewed by some as too complex for the NFL, to the college game. I expect there will be some growing pains, just as there were with his predecessor. Eventually this hire will be a success, and Schottenheimer will get a chance to run his own show. Or it won't, and Mark Richt will either replace him under duress or walk out the door with him. I remain confident in Mark Richt. But merely optimistic about Brian Schottenheimer. Until later....