Jets fire their scapegoat, hire Dolphins’ scapegoat

The New York Jets lose the scapegoat for their quarterback and the man blamed for the eighth-worst offense in the NFL when late on Tuesday night they announced that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is not returning to the team.

While no formal announcement has been made, the Jets are expected to unveil former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano as their new coordinator. Sparano was fired from the Dolphins in the midst of a 6-10 season where his team, despite being destined to miss the playoffs for a third straight year, still played hard.

The son of Marty Schottenheimer, the famed NFL coach and offensive mastermind, "Schotty" was with the Jets since 2006 and for the past three seasons, has drawn the ire of Jets fans for his play-calling. Head coach Rex Ryan stayed firm behind Schottenheimer during that time, even as quarterback Mark Sanchez's development flat-lined and perhaps regressed. Schottenheimer even became the face of the "Occupy Florham Park" movement.

In a statement issued by the Jets, the team said it was the coordinator's decision to "not return."

"After much thought and consideration, I have decided not to return to the New York Jets in 2012," Schottenheimer said in the statement. "I am very proud of what we have accomplished in the six years I have been here. I am grateful for the relationships that I have with our players and coaches and appreciate the hard work and dedication that went into our success. My family and I would like to thank Rex Ryan and the entire Jets organization and wish them continued success. I look forward to the exciting opportunities that lie ahead."

The move to cut ties with Schottenheimer is perhaps as much a sign to the Jets' own, disjointed locker room that it was the coaching staff and not the players' responsible for their disappointing 8-8 season, the first time under Ryan that the team has missed the playoffs. Schottenheimer drew the ire from fans for Sanchez's subpar performance this year, including a relatively flat quarterback rating and a decrease in yards per completion.

Despite the offense's poor showing and the failure of the ground game, including the offense passing the ball 59 times in a 29-14 loss to the New York Giants in Week 16, management stood by the embattled coordinator. In an end-of-the-season press conference on Jan. 2, general manager Mike Tannenbaum said of Schottenheimer that "We do expect Brian Schottenheimer back. We have been with him now for six years and I really respect the job he's done."

Ryan took it one step further, saying that Schottenheimer was ready for the next level in his professional career. Wishful thinking perhaps.

"He's got everything it takes to be a successful head coach in this league," Ryan said last week. "I think it starts with pedigree, but more importantly, here is a guy that's been successful."

Twice in the past three years, all with Sanchez as the starting quarterback, the Jets' total offense has been in the bottom half of the league.

Follow Kristian R. Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer\

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