Is Jim Hostler even qualified to install an NFL offensive game plan?

Alex Smith or Trent Dilfer, it really doesn’t matter for the 49ers’ offense right now. Dilfer replaced an injured Smith (shoulder) early in the first quarter but had the same issues. The Seattle defensive backs took San Francisco out of the game by playing aggressive press coverage against the slower 49ers receivers. Darrell Jackson and Arnaz Battle lack the speed to separate consistently, and that forced Dilfer to hold the ball longer, which led to his being, sacked, hurried and harassed all day long. With TE Vernon Davis out, the Seahawks were able to play their safeties close to the line of scrimmage, take away the run game and lock up the 49ers receivers one-on-one on the outside. Until San Francisco finds a way to open up the offense, it will see many more days like this offensively regardless who is playing quarterback. 

-Jeremy Green, Scouts Inc. 2007.

Four weeks into Jim Hostler’s career as an NFL Offensive Coordinator.

 Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

The Ravens haven’t made it official. But six year wide receivers coach, Jim Hostler, is one of two candidates in line to spearhead the Ravens offense for 2014. Kyle Shanahan is the other. If the Ravens choose Hostler, it’s not a decision that will go over so well here in Baltimore. At least early indications on social media point that direction as some proven candidates, like Gary Kubiak were passed up.

Discuss this topic over on our message board.

You be the judge. Here is a look at Jim Hostler’s resume:

Hostler

 

I couldn’t tell you how he made the leap from Division II Indiana University (PA) to the NFL. In his nine years total at the school, the Crimson Hawks went to the playoffs five times. There are no ties between Hostler and anyone on the Kansas City Chiefs staff from 2000.

The 2000 Chiefs finished 9th in the league in scoring behind Elvis Grbac, Tony Gonzalez, and former Ravens wide out, Derrick Alexander.

During his time in New Orleans, Hostler worked with wide receivers, Joe Horn, Donte Stallworth, and some guys you have never heard of unless you’re a Saints enthusiast. He was an assistant under Saints OC at the time, Mike McCarthy, who went on to great success as head coach of the Green Bay Packers for the last eight seasons.

Commanding the wide receivers and the quarterbacks of the Jets from 2003-2004, Santana Moss posted one of his better seasons. Moss went over 1,000 yards four times in his career and the first time was in 2003. He posted 74 catches, 1,105 yards, and still a career best 10 TDs while starting just 12 games. He regressed in a big way in 2004 though, starting 14 games and seeing his catches drop off to 45. Moss also notched 838 yards, with just five TDs.

Also under Hostler’s watch, Chad Pennington earned the starting QB job for good in 2004 after splitting time with Vinny Testaverde the year before. Pennington wasn’t bad, but certainly not great. 13 starts, 65.4% completion rate, 205.6 YPG, 16 TD and 9 INTs.

Hostler worked under Offensive Coordinator, Paul Hackett, whose offense was pretty average (12th in yards, 17th in points in 2004) but excelled in the run game with Curtis Martin toting the rock. (3rd in rushing yards and attempts)

Jim Hostler’s work with Chad Pennington was just good enough to land him a job focusing just on the quarterbacks in San Francisco from 2005-2006. Hostler was tabbed by former colleague, Mike McCarthy, who ran the offense there for one season before moving on to the top spot in Green Bay. 2005 was Alex Smith’s rookie year and he was the number one overall pick in the draft out of Utah. The 49ers passed over California boy, Aaron Rodgers in that draft. Oops. McCarthy would soon reunite with Rodgers. The Ravens took Mark Clayton two picks before Aaron Rodgers went off the board. Oops. I digress. Hostler was in QB hell in 2005 as Tim Rattay would start the season atop the depth chart. Alex Smith would take over after a 1-3 start, and go 9-23 for 74 yards against the Colts with 4 INTs. Smith was then 8-16 for 92 yards with an INT and fumble in a 52-17 thumping from the Redskins coming off a bye week. Smith would suffer and injury leading to Ken Dorsey getting a start then injuring himself, and fourth stringer (when Tim Rattay was traded) Cody Pickett leading the way. After missing five games, Alex Smith would return and toss six more INTs before finally throwing a TD pass in the final game of the season.

Alex Smith’s final line in 2005: 50.9% CMP, 1 TD, 11 INTs, 97.2 YPG, 40.8 rating

The 49ers improved in 2006 with Norv Turner now leading the offense and keeping Hostler on board. Frank Gore had a break-out season rushing for 1,695 yards in his first season as the feature back starting all 16 games.  Hostler’s project, Alex Smith would start all 16 games as well and improved a little. But not to the level you want your number one pick to be. Certainly not to the level we have seen Smith play too in recent years as one of the most efficient game managers in the league.

Alex Smiths 2006 line: 58.1% CMP, 16 TDs, 16 INTs, 180.6 YPG, 74.8 rating

Norv Turner took the head coaching spot in San Diego in 2007, opening the door for Hostler to promote to his first gig as offensive coordinator at the highest level. The 49ers had improved from 4-12 to 7-9, Smith would be entering his 3rd season and should be acclimated to the pro game. Frank Gore came off a career year, and Vernon Davis was supposed to be a game changing tight end. Instead the offense regressed. Frank Gore saw 52 less carries and 32 less yards per game. Arnaz Battle led the team in receiving at just 600 yards on 50 catches. Vernon Davis would catch 52 balls for 509 yards. Alex Smith would suffer a shoulder injury in week four, which led to the Jeremy Green quote above. Post quote, between Smith and Dilfer, the 49ers would lose six in a row, and finish 3-9 (5-11 overall). The Hostler offense in 2007 scored more than 21 points just once, a 37-31 OT win vs. Arizona. They were held under 20 points 12 times, and just single digits six times. San Francisco finished dead last in offense by miles. The 31st ranked offense, Kansas City, amassed nearly 40 more yards per game than the Niners.

Needless to say, Hostler’s offense was historically atrocious and he was not asked to return.

Jim Hostler has been the Ravens WRs coach ever since.

I’ve always been of the mindset that in order for a positional coach to be worthy of a promotion to a position where he not only runs one half of the teams game plan, but also has other coaches under him, they should excel at developing talent at the position they coach first. It kind of makes sense that you should be good at your job to be in line for a promotion. Is Hostler good at developing wide receivers?

Jim Hostler took over the Ravens WRs in 2008 and since then the Ravens have drafted the following receivers:

Hostlers WR

 

Demetrius Williams and Mark Clayton played for two underwhelming seasons under Hostler in 2008 and 2009. There was a problem developing young wide receivers which led to free agent signings like T.J. Houshmanzadeh, Donte Stallworth (whom Hostler coached in New Orleans), Lee Evans and Jacoby Jones.

The biggest red flag about Hostler is Anquan Boldin. He has elite hands. Boldin is the youngest player in history to reach 600 catches. In his seven seasons in Arizona he caught 6.2 balls per game, and nearly 80 YPG. Those numbers plummeted once he came to Charm City. 4.1 catches per game, 58.8 YPG in three seasons. His numbers were not really inflated by Kurt Warner’s presence in the Cardinals offense as Boldin’s best season was one where Josh McCown was throwing to him for six games. This is also evident if you consider that Boldin put up his 4th best season statistically this past year with read-option QB Colin Kapernick, who didn’t set the world on fire. Boldin is back up to 5.3 catches per game, and 73.7 YPG in San Franciso at age 33.

What went wrong with Anquan Boldin in Baltimore that he couldn’t top 65 catches, and didn’t sniff a 1,000 yard season in three seasons while still considered in his prime? This is the first question I’m asking Jim Hostler in any interview.

To sum it all up, what does Jim Hostler have to hang his hat on?

  • One good season of Santana Moss, followed by regression
  • Failure to develop two first round QBs, Pennington and Smith
  • Complete failure in Alex Smith’s case as the number one overall pick
  • Regression in one of the league’s best running games when he installed his game plan in SF
  • In six years with the Ravens he’s got Torrey Smith, jury still out on Marlon Brown, and a long list of what could have been
  • Regression of Anquan Boldin who just proved he can still put up great numbers in any offense on the wrong side of 30 years old

Someone enlighten me? What makes Jim Hostler qualified to install and run an NFL offense expected to produce better results than the Ravens offense did in 2013?

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About the author


Mike Randall  

Ravens Analyst

Mike was born on the Eastern Shore, raised in Finksburg, and currently residing in Parkville. In 2009, Mike graduated from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland. Shortly after he started up a Baltimore area sports blog called The BOHpen. Mike became a Baltimore City Fire Fighter in late 2010.


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2 Responses to Is Jim Hostler even qualified to install an NFL offensive game plan?

  1. Brian Adams says:

    Well, this whole article doesn’t matter anymore.

    • Chris Stoner says:

      That is true Brian. Check out the forum for current discussion of the pending hire of Kubiak. Also discussion and info to be found about the likely-hood of Dennison, and Shanahan also joining the staff.

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