New offensive coordinator John Morton will bring a lot to the table with the New York Jets but it won’t be easy at first.
While millions of football fans around the country bracing themselves for what should be a back-and-forth, high-scoring Super Bowl this Sunday, the management of the New York Jets wasted little time in their search for a new offensive coordinator, signing John Morton this past week. Morton played professional football, both in the NFL and overseas for five seasons and then he started his coaching career in 2002.
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Morton coached for USC in college and the Raiders, Chargers, 49ers and Saints in the NFL. He has never called a single play as a head coach or an offensive coordinator before, as he dealt mainly with wide receivers and tight ends. However, there are several reasons for Jets fans to be optimistic about the signing, because he just might be the perfect fit for the job.
In the sports world, there have been several coaches in the past that take that step up to a higher position, just as Morton is doing with this new job with the Jets and actually, have tremendous success. In the NFL, for example, Josh McDaniels, the Patriots’ offensive coaching guru, began as a personal assistant years before becoming the OC. And now, he has established himself as the top in the league, assisting Tom Brady in leading the top offensive team in the league.
In the NBA, Phil Jackson began as an assistant for the Nets and Bulls before taking over as head coach for the Bulls and eventually the Lakers, winning 11 championships coaching Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan-led teams. I’m not saying Morton could ever become as legendary of a coach as Jackson, but Morton definitely has potential.
The Jets are currently on their fifth offensive coordinator in the past seven seasons, unable to find the right guy to lead a horrific offense. Of course, a huge portion of the blame can fall on the lackluster play of the offensive line and mediocre quarterbacks, however, a coach is just as at fault in these times.
Turning the Jets offense around will be a tall task for Morton. The Jets averaged 329.3 yards per game, 26th in the league, and ranked second-to-last in offensive DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), per Football Outsiders.
Morton has also coached for several championship-contending teams with great leaders as head coaches, such as Pete Carroll in his final year at USC, Sean Payton when the Saints won the Super Bowl and finally Jim Harbaugh for the 49ers in the Super Bowl finalist team. Most recently, the Saints wideouts found success under Morton in 2016. Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas, and Willie Snead combined to catch 242 passes for 3,205 yards and 21 touchdowns.
Following the signing, the Jets management received criticism for selecting Morton, as fans feel the need for a quarterback-minded coach is a necessity, not Morton, who is known for his ability to develop receivers. The Jets already have two Pro Bowl-caliber receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, so Morton really wasn’t the needed coach. However, with the right signing in free agency or in the 2017 NFL Draft, Morton could certainly make some magic happen and help the Jets offense thrive again.