Wendy gets Schitty to explain his goalline calls in the AFCCG.
It happend nearly five months ago, but Wednesday was my first chance to ask Brian Schottenheimer about the AFC Championship Game -- specifically, the four ill-fated plays at the Steelers' goal line that sparked so much criticism.
It's a little ridiculous that we're talking about this in June, but it is what it is. Besides, what else is there to talk about?
Schottenheimer, emerging from his off-season cocoon, was good enough to look back, offering some insight into the decisions. This might be painful for some fans -- just when you think the healing is complete -- but the Jets' offensive coordinator has some interesting thoughts.
First down from the 2: Shonn Greene runs up the middle for one yard.
Schottenheimer: "We went in there with a plan, and the plan was, the first time we got into goal line, we wanted to try to catch them off balance. We ran a trick formation (on first down). We had Shonn and L.T. (LaDainian Tomlinson) in the game. We had a shift with late motion. We tried a trap play; the trap play worked pretty well for us."
Second down from the 1: Mark Sanchez, under pressure, throws incomplete to Dustin Keller on play-action.
Schottenheimer: "We already talked about it as a staff: If we could get down close, we wanted to run a play-action pass because they were such a good run defense and we knew they’d be selling out. Unfortunately, we had some head-set communication problems. We actually considered a timeout, but Mark felt good that he could get the play run. He did a great job of getting the play run, but because we were rushed the run-sell wasn’t very good."
Third down from the 1: Sanchez throws incomplete, batted down by OLB LaMarr Woodley, on a quick slant to Santonio Holmes.
Schottenheimer: "We tried to spread them out. We went with a red-zone play. We tried to change it up. You have to give the defense a lot of credit. LaMarr Woodley made a Pro Bowl play. We tried to isolate Santonio on the weak side. He jumped up and batted the ball."
A week later at the Super Bowl, Woodley told me he knew it was a pass because RT Wayne Hunter tipped the play, setting in a two-point stance. Asked if they tipped the play, Schottenheimer said, "I don't think so. LaMarr obviously saw something because he didn’t rush, but we give our tackles a lot of freedom to get into a two-point stance."
Fourth down from the 1: Tomlinson runs up the middle for no gain.
Schottenheimer: "We went wth our 'Gotta-have-it' call, a play that won the divisional-round game for us last year against San Diego. We’ve run it a ton of times."
Reflecting on the entire sequence, Schottenheimer said, "I really wouldn’t have done anything different. I remember a couple of years ago, when I had (Brett) Favre. I ran it four straight times against New England and I was called conservative because I wouldn’t let Brett Favre pass. When things work as a coordinator, you look good. When they don’t, you look bad. Unfortunately, in this situation, I have to take the bullet that we didn’t get it."