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Friday, January 12, 2007

Brian Schottenheimer could be headed To Miami

Schottenheimer in demand
Huizenga's plane makes stop at Republic Airport so Dolphins can talk to young offensive coordinator-see my end notes

BY TOM ROCK
Newsday Staff Writer

January 11, 2007

The Dolphins spoke with Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer about their vacant head-coaching position yesterday, the first of what could be many nibbles at the son of Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer, who is an up-and-comer in the eyes of many NFL insiders.

Shortly after the private 737 owned by Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga spent the morning at Newark Airport, where the Dolphins spoke with Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, the plane flew to Farmingdale's Republic Airport for an on-board, tarmac-bound meeting with Schottenheimer, according to a Dolphins official who requested anonymity.

According to flight reports, Huizenga's plane was at Republic for approximately 2 1/2 hours before flying to Detroit and a meeting with Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz. Over the weekend, the plane also went to Costa Rica, where USC coach Pete Carroll was vacationing.

The search to replace Nick Saban is far from narrow, with more than a dozen coaches expected to meet with Dolphins ownership and management for pre-interviews in the coming days. After that, the group will be whittled down to three or four for more in-depth interviews in Miami, according to the Dolphins official.

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum yesterday confirmed the Dolphins' interest in Schottenheimer and said the Jets have a "short list" of contingency candidates if they need to replace Schottenheimer - or any coach or player, for that matter. Running backs coach Jimmy Raye was offensive coordinator for five NFL teams, and wide receivers coach Noel Mazzone had that job at three colleges, but the Jets are just as likely to look outside the organization.

"If that situation were to present itself, we would consider in-house people and other coaches that would be available," Tannenbaum said. "It is like any other search. You want to get the best person that you can."

If Schottenheimer leaves, it would mean a fourth different offensive coordinator for the Jets in four years.

Schottenheimer is considered by many to have the makings of an NFL head coach, including a gregarious personality and a mind for the game. His limitation is lack of experience, but the Jets have shown that taking a chance on a young, developing coach can produce results.

Like Eric Mangini before he took the top Jets job last winter, Schottenheimer has only one year of experience as a coordinator. But in that year he impressed many around the league with his innovative no-huddle system based on the West Coast offense and loaded with shifts and misdirection.

The Jets' offense was ranked 25th in the NFL in yardage and 18th in scoring. Those are hardly staggering numbers, but Schottenheimer matched the system to his personnel very well, playing to strengths (Chad Pennington's intelligence) and sidestepping weaknesses (no feature running back). They used short passes to receivers as "extended handoffs" and tinkered with combinations of receivers, tight ends and running backs.

Schottenheimer, 33, was his father's quarterbacks coach for the Chargers from 2002-05 and for the Redskins in 2001. Under his guidance, two quarterbacks have won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award: Drew Brees in 2004 and Pennington in 2006. The Dolphins may hope to sprinkle some of that comeback magic on Daunte Culpepper for 2007.

When Saban bolted for Alabama last week, Mangini was asked about the possibility of members of his staff interviewing for the job at a division rival. His own such move is a main source of the tension between him and Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

"It's part of the nature of the NFL," he said. "People change and move on, and through success, opportunities are created. Sometimes those opportunities are at different places. That's just the nature of the business."

The Dolphins might wind up passing on Schottenheimer, but the first branch of the Mangini coaching tree could be springing forth in the very near future.

And my Slant: This Kid is the reason Why Pennington is the comback player of the year. From the moment i saw him operate at Jets camp last summer, I knew he was the real deal, like his Dad. Infact when the Jets Offense had a miscue he made them run a lap while he foamed at the mouth(also just like daddy)! It would be a big loss for the Jets if he left.

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