When New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles hired New Orleans Saints assistant John Morton to succeed Chan Gailey as the Jets’ offensive coordinator, many questioned the move. Morton, although he has worked for the the likes Pete Carroll, Jim Harbaugh and Sean Payton, had never called a play in an NFL game and still hasn’t. In fact, the highest level of coaching Morton has achieved in the pros is a wide receivers coach.
So, predicting what type of offense the Jets will run in 2017 has become a bit of a challenge. Morton, speaking to the media at the opening of Jets OTAs on Tuesday, didn’t give a whole lot of direction towards a solution only that they would be “competitive”.
“Every game plan is going to be different based on who we’re playing,” Morton said of his possible game planning. “It’s not going to be just one thing, this is what we do. I think that’s important.”
But what will the offense look like? Will they be a run-oriented team or run a wide-open style? It’s hard to see them doing either given the uncertainty at a lot of positions, especially at quarterback.
Which is another thing. Morton said the competition at quarterback will be a wide open one and all three QBs – Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg – will get equal reps throughout the OTA process.
Morton did reveal what he expects from the offense this year. Hint: it’s what every team in the league probably has on their white board in their meeting rooms.
“Take care of the ball… and move the chains. I think that’s important,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 thing. That’s what I preached this morning, first time going against the defense. I showed them cut-ups of how to take care of the ball and that’s the quarterback making the right decisions.”
Ball security is a key component to winning football games. Any novice can tell you that, but Morton wanted to make sure that everyone knows the exact importance of that statistic.
“You win 82 percent of your games if you win the turnover battle, so that’s the biggest thing that we’re going to concentrate on right now,” he said, “and everybody competing to try and get better every day.”
Morton, who was the offensive coordinator at USC IN 2009, Carroll’s last season, said he will call the offensive plays from the coaches’ booth upstairs and entrust his QB coach, Jeremy Bates, to manage the sidelines.
Bates and Morton have a long standing relationship that dates back to their days at USC and Morton holds him in high regard. Bates has a penchant for developing young quarterbacks and is seen as the perfect fit for Petty and Hackenberg. The Jets would like to see a huge jump from Hackenberg this summer and perhaps Bates is already having an effect…
One interesting item to pop up this spring: Jets are pleased with the way QB Christian Hackenberg has looked. The Jeremy Bates effect.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 24, 2017
Morton also pointed out that he is impressed with the dedication he has seen from the quarterbacks.
“I like how they’re gym rats. I like how all three compete every day and they come to work,” Morton said. “We talk about blue-collar mentality and that’s what they do. That’s what I love about them.”
Let’s see if that love affair is a short-lived one given the offense will be an amorphous work in progress this season.