Jets hire Saints’ John Morton as offensive coordinator
NEW YORK (AP) The New York Jets found someone to lead their offense. Next up: the search for a quarterback.
New Orleans Saints wide receivers coach John Morton was hired by the Jets on Tuesday to be their offensive coordinator.
Morton replaces Chan Gailey, who retired after the season following two years on coach Todd Bowles’ staff.
The hiring came four weeks after the Jets finished a 5-11 season during which the offense struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness.
Morton, 47, spent the last two seasons coaching receivers on Sean Payton’s staff in New Orleans, helping develop Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead and Michael Thomas in the Drew Brees-led high-scoring offense.
He was also in the same role in San Francisco from 2011-14. Morton also has experience coaching under Jim Harbaugh, Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, Norv Turner and Pete Carroll at the pro and college levels.
The Jets also announced that they hired Robert Nunn as their defensive line coach. Nunn spent this past season with Cleveland after six with the Giants, serving in the same role while working with stars Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora.
Morton recently interviewed with the Jets, who also had spoken to Denver’s Eric Studesville and considered George Godsey, formerly Houston’s offensive coordinator, for the job. New York also had been interested in Philadelphia quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, but was denied permission to speak with him.
The offensive coordinator job did not appear to be the most attractive vacancy this offseason, with the team’s uncertainty at quarterback as well as the perception by some that Bowles might need to have a winning year in order to last beyond next season.
New York’s offense ranked 26th overall in the NFL and subpar play at QB was a primary culprit. Ryan Fitzpatrick set a franchise record in 2015 with 31 touchdown passes and re-signed with the Jets for one year and $12 million. He struggled mightily, though, and is unlikely to return as a free agent.
Geno Smith, the franchise’s former starter, also is scheduled to be a free agent and is coming off a torn knee ligament. Bryce Petty is recovering from shoulder surgery on his non-throwing arm, while Christian Hackenberg, a second-round draft pick, spent his entire rookie season on the sideline and is considered a project.
Figuring out the position will be a large part of the job for Morton, who began his coaching career in 1998 with Oakland under Gruden. He was a wide receivers coach, offensive quality control coach and tight ends coach before joining Harbaugh’s staff at the University of San Diego as an offensive assistant in 2005.
Morton’s first stint with Payton’s Saints came the next season as an offensive assistant. He served as an assistant under Carroll at Southern California from 2007-09, including the last year as offensive coordinator, before reassuming his roles as the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach in 2010 under Lane Kiffin.
Morton, a former wide receiver at Grand Rapids Community College and then Western Michigan, spent time on the practice squads of Oakland, Green Bay and Jacksonville. He also played briefly in the CFL and World League of American Football.
Nunn, who has coached 17 seasons in the NFL, has experience with both 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes. He replaces Pepper Johnson, who was not retained after the season, and will lead a defensive line that is perhaps the most talented unit on the team with Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson all having made Pro Bowl appearances.
Nunn has also coached with Tampa Bay, Green Bay, Washington and Miami.
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