FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- In a news conference to jump start offseason speculation, New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum said that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will not be fired, although he is scheduled to interview for the Jacksonville head coaching job. Then Tannenbaum ceded the microphone to head coach Rex Ryan, who gave a sales pitch for his coordinator that made him seem like a deal too good to pass up.
"He's got everything it takes to be a successful head coach in this league," Ryan said. "I think it starts with the pedigree, but more importantly here's a guy who's been successful, he know how to develop players and we've gone to two back-to-back AFC Championship Games. A lot of that is due to his work ethic, which I think is tremendous."
The easiest solution to any coordinator problem the Jets might have is for Schottenheimer to get a job elsewhere.
Ryan reiterated that he thought the odds were 50-50 that his embattled coordinator would be back, but the only way Ryan thought Schottenheimer would go is if he got a head coaching job somewhere else. During the last offseason, Ryan and Tannenbaum extended Schottenheimer's contract through 2013 at $3.2 million.
"Both of us felt great about that," Ryan said.
But this season, Schottenheimer, whose father is former San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer, once again became the focus of critics. Quarterback Mark Sanchez didn't develop as hoped, completed just two passes of more than 40 yards and, in a loss to the Giants on Christmas Eve, called a game with an eye-opening 59 passes.
Several reports emerged saying that the Jets were looking to replace Schottenheimer at the position, possibly with offensive line coach Bill Callahan. But Tannenbaum and Ryan refuted those reports, although Ryan showed his hand a little towards the end.
"He would be the coordinator," Ryan said. "That's what his job title is, guys. He's under contract to be the offensive coordinator. So that, you know, is what I'm saying. ... To say that, well, you're considering a change, I don't think that, not helpful for Brian. He's under contract as the offensive coordinator and it's certainly going to help his chances of being a head coach."
Ryan reiterated that Schottenheimer has been targeted for blame that really should go to the head coach.
"I really respect the job he's done in terms of working with three different quarterbacks," Tannenbaum said, "two championship games and he's done a really credible job for us."
Jane McManus covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.