As you guys know, I don’t follow the NFL closely, so my impression of Brian Schottenheimer’s work on that level is largely restricted to what others have had to say after observation. Here’s one such comment, based on his career with the New York Jets.
No Jets QB has done well in the 20+ play category. While the 40+ plays are often the result a wide receiver simply having superior speed and getting open down the sideline, the 20+ yarder is often more about hitting an open receiver in stride and letting him scamper those extra few yards to pick up the 20. This never seemed to happen with the Jets. One would think that if you are avoiding that type of play, then the Qb’s completion percentage should significantly rise as would his YPA.
If you look at Favre in Minnesota that is exactly what is happening with their offensive scheme. The Vikings have limited how far Favre can throw the ball in the intermediate passing game which is why his 20+ plays are so low. His completion %, however, is 11% above the average, a big jump from both 2008 and 2007. In addition his YPA are a big increase from his time with the Jets. As a Jet his completion percentage was identical with his stats in Green Bay, despite Favre being used much more as a down the field passer in 2007. His YPA were a disaster as a Jet. There really has been no correlation with the lack of mid range passing and completion rate under Schottenheimer, other than Chad’s rise in completion % in 2007, where Pennington’s passes were so short that his YPA was just awful by his usual standards. His stints in Miami and under Herm provided much better results with the YPA being far better outside of Schottenheimer’s system.
The question to ask is do the Jets not call plays that are safe outs if the long pass is not there? In 2007, when Chad was under heavy pressure the dramatic decline in his YPC and YPA indicate that the safe routes were very short with no hope of working for any extra YAC. Favre’s numbers indicate a similar pattern. Clemens was really the only aberration, but dealt with a ton of 3rd and longs due to the big sacks he took, a problem also plaguing rookie Mark Sanchez. When examining Clemens high YPC compared to not just his contemporaries in Croyle and Jackson but to Pennington and Favre it seems as if Clemens simply locked on long and did his best to find the first read that was maybe a longer pattern. It would explain the huge amount of sacks he took relative to Pennington as well as the poor YPA and completion %. It also is probably a reason why he turned the ball over so much.
That strikes me as, if not ominous for Georgia’s offense, at least relevant. Look at Georgia’s conference ranking in scrimmage plays of 20+ yards over the past few seasons under Bobo:
- 2014: 7th
- 2013: 4th
- 2012: 2nd
- 2011: 3rd
The drop in 2014 was matched, as the above passage speculates (“the Qb’s completion percentage should significantly rise as would his YPA”), by Mason leading the conference, setting a school record in the process, in completion percentage. Mike Bobo, it would seem, made a deliberate choice based on his starting quarterback’s strengths and weaknesses to alter his approach in the passing game. Note how that’s reflected in conference ranking in passing plays of 20+ yards over the same period:
- 2014: 11th
- 2013: 2nd
- 2012: 1st
- 2011: 2nd
Despite a big drop in that category, Georgia didn’t miss a beat on offense last season because of an incredibly effective running game and because Mason was an accurate passer.
All of which begs the question what happens under Brian Schottenheimer. It’s impossible to say right now, of course. You don’t know how much of what Richt wants in the passing game (and what Georgia has been used to running under Bobo) is maintained in the new version of the playbook. It’s also very likely that this year’s starting quarterback will have better arm strength than did Mason – but will likely be less accurate and more prone to turnovers.
But from here, what it suggests is a few things:
- reinforcement for what most of us expect, another year of heavy reliance on the running game;
- a good reason for the quarterbacks evaluation to stretch out over a longer period than we’ve seen over the past few seasons; and
- the early, favorable schedule being a useful period for Richt to evaluate Schottenheimer’s feel for the passing game.
It’s gonna be interesting, anyway.