The offensive coordinator transition and the effect on the intermediate passing game

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.

47 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

47 responses to “The offensive coordinator transition and the effect on the intermediate passing game

  1. Columbus Dawg

    There is absolutely NO way UGA has a shot at the playoffs without the return of the downfield passing attack. Even Alabama, who has not been greatly known for the long passing game in the past has acknowledged this fact. Oregon, Ohio State, Baylor, TCU, and many others who rank highly in this have moved up the ladder. I know this blog is chock FULL of Richt apologists, and most of you feel he can name his retirement year. You would be wrong. Mark Richt must make his move in the next two seasons, or the image in Athens will return to that of Ray Goff’s final two years. Richt, by his own faults and making, does not have the luxury of hoping to sign Jacob Eason, and at some point in the future under his leadership returning to championship form. I know full well that most of you here think that I am nuts, but keep watching. That thingy going on before the Belk Bowl was REAL.

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    • Regardless of your opinion of the job CMR has done over the last 2 years, comparing CMR at this point in his career to Ray Goff’s final 2 years is downright laughable. I don’t know if you were a Georgia fan in 1994 and 1995, but I can tell you this. This program is nowhere close to the mess it was in those two years. Ray Goff should have never been given the opportunity to coach in ’95 after the disaster of losing to Vandy on Homecoming and the complete collapse of the team in Gainesville later that season.

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    • Macallanlover

      You made a solid point about the need for a vertical passing game and then lost all credibility with the Goff/Richt comment. And “chock full of Richt apologists” comment closed the case. I never encounter as many Richt haters in conversation as I do here. And when I do it is from young fans who grew up in the ESPN generation of how to assign value to coaches, teams, and players; if you miss winning the title, MVP, Heisman, etc., one year you are over the hill. Failure in life isn’t determined when you fall below a grade of 95, and most adults know that. And fans of rivals teams think our 15%ers are just downright weird.

      In my regular circle of friends and acquaintances, there is one “we need to get rid of Richt guy”, one. This blog is loaded with them, and like my one friend who is, they are up and down depending on the way the wind is blowing at the moment. Of course, as fans everyone wants to win all the games and titles, but they have enough perspective to realize how precious those are and how many factors go into who wins them. Things are very good in Athens right now, maybe the best they have ever been, wanting to change regimes now is simply illogical. Room for a different opinion? Absolutely, but it isn’t happening, certainly not this year, so get in board and let’s see what we can accomplish when we all pull together. It would be nice if we weren’t the butt of jokes about fans that live on the cliff’s edge with every single bump in the road.

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    • W Cobb Dawg

      Not sure the Goff analogy works, but I can see your point. CMR wins about 10 games a year. That’s enough to keep his job.

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      • Mayor

        Averaging 10 wins per season is a pretty big deal. That SHOULD be enough to keep CMR’s job. How many schools have a HC who does that? Not many. I have been pretty critical of CMR over the years for: (1) The failure of the Dawgs to show up at least one game per year and consequently losing to (usually) an inferior team; and (2) The end-of-game bonehead decision that steals defeat from the jaws of victory, which happens about once a season (twice last year). Those 2 things are what keep Georgia from being in the hunt for the SEC Championship and the national championship each season. But CMR puts a pretty good team on the field year after year. Anybody who wants to fire him after a 10 win season IS nuts.

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      • Mark Richt’s career W-L average at Georgia is 9-4 ( or 3.8 losses). Richt is a more likable Donnan (8-4), nothing more.

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        • AusDawg85

          Nice maths…

          Wins 136 Avg. 9.7
          Losses 48 Avg. 3.4

          That’s a 10 – 3 average record. Making up facts does not help improve your arguments.

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        • 2 SEC championships
          5 appearances in the SEC championship game
          8 top 10 finishes in the Coaches Poll (7 in the AP poll) including 3 top 5 finishes
          3 Sugar Bowl appearances (2 wins) and 3 Cap1 Bowl appearances (3 wins)

          That’s a bit more than the Donnan record of no SEC championship game appearances, 1 top 10 finish, no appearances in a bowl game more prestigious than the Outback – you can have your opinion, but the facts are the facts.

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        • PTC DAWG

          LMAO

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      • W Cobb Dawg

        Jeebus! All I said was “I see his point”. Some of you guys need thicker skin or something to do with all the time on your hands.

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    • DV

      FSU made the playoffs with an 8.2 ypa, and Georgia’s was 8.1 ypa. Can make the playoffs without an 8.5+ ypa, FSU did.

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    • DV

      ypa = yards per attempt for passing. FSU and Georgia were pretty much identical @8.15 ypa.

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    • PTC DAWG

      Troll much?

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    • Cojones

      You can shove your “Richt apologists” shit right up your Doomsday ass.

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    • Dog in Fla

      “and most of you feel he can name his retirement year.”

      He’s never going to retire

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  2. doofusdawg

    Good analysis. The question that keeps coming up in my mind is why cbs has been given so many chances in the league as an oc if he keeps screwing up. If our offense turns into a dump passing game and our ppg drops below 40 then Columbus is probably right and 2016 will be very tumultuous.

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    • Macallanlover

      That is a point I have been drawing confidence from as well, CBS has been an OC for nine years in the NFL and did not come to Athens because he was terminated. That is a league that does not stay with incompetent people long, or because of financial reasons. I don’t know enough about him to say how good he will, or will not, be for UGA but he isn’t a low level hire that should concern us. Especially with a former successful OC overseeing his work, and also knows the personnel. Any change can have it’s risks but this one seems to involve a very capable coach, overseen by another very capable coach, both working with a load of talent.

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      • Cojones

        And if that’s not enough we should all reflect back to Richt’s OC career at FSU. There is not another better offensive mind in cfb.

        Still don’t understand why “Snakebit” is never in anyone’s mind about many of our losses. Taking left-handed shots at Richt seems to be a sport in some people’s minds rather than addressing some losses to chance. It would be okay to make stupid assertions except we ain’t the audience to accept idiocy, plus many of the 15%ers have improved in their outlook and some are genuinely enjoying Dawg games now. Those are the people who have openly admitted to seeing the rational used to support our program as a whole, coaches and all. Some of those 15% were supportive of Grantham to the end and that speaks volumes about their football knowledge.

        Of course Bluto could give us a kick in the rear sometimes by taking a busman’s holiday using a fake non de plume and … nah, guess not.

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  3. I have no doubt that we have to return to some semblance of a downfield passing game to be successful. This offense is not going to be a year-in, year-out, grind-it-out running team as last year’s team was. It’s not what CMR wants. It wasn’t what CMB wanted. CMR wants balance – a running game that can set up the downfield shot in play action especially when safeties come up in run support and a running game that takes advantage of the numbers in the box.

    No matter what his completion percentage was, Mason’s physical limitations constrained what this offense could do especially in the downfield passing game. We didn’t have the deep comeback route available, which then kept us from being able to call the fly or out-and-up routes. Also, Mason didn’t have the confidence to make those deep throws to the sidelines. The deep post was the only downfield route CMB has in his arsenal this past season.

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  4. Russ

    I don’t know Schott from Shinola, but I know his boss is pretty dang good with the offense. I figure at worst there might be some hiccups but Richt won’t let it crater.

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    • +1 – the guy knows offense and quarterback play

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    • doofusdawg

      Yep… and when cmr was calling the plays we went deep probably more than any other team. It was play action and over the top. I like many complained that he brought the Florida State game plan with him that relied on superior athletes at the wr position as the reason for his constantly going long… with out great success I recall.

      Hopefully there will be a perfect balance between cmr and cbs.

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  5. Bright Idea

    Comparing Richt to Goff and trying to predict Georgia’s offense from the Jets under Schotty are both insane.

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    • Noonan

      Bingo. Shitty QBs might have played a role in the Jets results, no? Yes, I think old Brett Favre was a shitty QB.

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  6. DawgInHoCo

    Richt’s message to the QB – we have Nick Chubb, don’t eff it up…

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  7. Mark

    CMR has had a down field passing attack at UGA and at FSU. I don’t see that changing much. He knows what he’s doing with the intermediate routes. If CS doesn’t, then he’ll be picking it up from one of the best.

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    • Trbodawg

      I totally agree with this. I think learning from Richt was the major reason Schottenheimer wanted the job.

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      • Cojones

        Nice to see you back. Yours and Mark’s attitudes are spot on knowledgeable. Your game pickin’ was pretty good the last couple of years if I remember correctly.

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        • Trbodawg

          Thanks, blind squirrel and all that. Im always reading the blog, just dont comment a lot. Better to remain silent, and thoight fool…. 🙂

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  8. DawgPhan

    I just feel like the offense might not score 40 per game, but I dont think that the defense is going to be giving up 35 a game either. So hopefully the defense gets better and the offense can sling it down field just a little.

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    • W Cobb Dawg

      It would be difficult to continue scoring at the same clip we did in 2014, and/or to have so few turnovers. Unfortunately, I think we take a step back on O. Maybe some quick strike long TD passes will make up for any ‘reversion-to-the-mean’ problems on offense. The big improvements came from D and STs last year, and I’m anticipating that to continue.

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  9. Brandon (Version 1)

    I said it for years, Bobo was a good OC. He was as good as Richt from the get-go. He caught a lot of unnecessary hell because the defense went to pieces about the same time as he took over the offensive reins.

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  10. Bluto giveth the Kool-Aid, and Bluto taketh away.

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  11. DV

    You’re gonna see a few things.

    1- Chubb will be the star of the offense, so a heavy dose of run because that’s the strength of the team, just like 2014 (barring a Chubb injury).
    2- Qb will be in the game mngr role, will be asked to complete a high % of short passes and not turn the ball over, like what they asked of Mason
    3- Georgia will have several major knee injuries at receiver and be very thin, happens every year now. Mitchell’s already blown out acl, and some kind of injury due to overusing Chubb, are the most likely candidates.

    There’s no reason to really change anything on offense, since the offense set the school record for scoring under Mason’s leadership. Maybe rep more because of red zone offense miscues like the GT & SC games, but overall, scheme-wise, expect to see a carbon copy of last season.

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  12. 69Dawg

    I don’t care who your Daddy is, you don’t work for 9 years as an NFL OC if you suck at it. Remember in the NFL you don’t get to pick your players as an assistant coach, the GM picks them for you. Your job is to make chicken salad out of chicken shit (see the long and storied history of the Atlanta Falcons). Everything is relative. CBS has 3 QB’s and a bunch of WR/TE’s that he didn’t pick but he has been to this dance for 9 years. The difference between now and the 9 previous years is he does not have to out scheme an NFL defense (with the exception of Alabama of course). I know we have got to Dawggrade everything UGA does but really we should at least wait for the first game of the season.

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  13. Will Trane

    Damn, I’m missing Mike Bobo already.

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  14. AusDawg85

    I wonder if we’re going to miss Mason.

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  15. RM

    Don’t think “begs the question” was used right

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