The Jets have announced they have parted ways with first year offensive coordinator John Morton.
Morton only got to spend one season with the Jets before being fired. This was his first year as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, previously serving as a wide receiver coach for the San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints. He deserves credibility as a receivers coach, considering he played a big role in the development of stud receiver Michael Thomas last season.
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Let’s cut Morton some slack. In just his first year calling plays in the NFL, Morton was stuck with one of the most talent-deficient rosters in the league. A sub-par offensive line, running backs who are starting to fall out of their prime, and a 38 year old journeyman QB did not give Morton much to work with.
Morton wasn’t the worst of play-callers, but he wasn’t top-notch either. The Jets finished the season ranked 28th in total offense, acquiring a total of 4,884 yards, nearly 500 yards lower than the league average. They also finished 24th in passing yards with 3,182 yards, and 19th in rushing yards with 1,702 yards. Lastly, the Jets averaged 5.0 yards/play, right around the league average of 5.3. (All stats via Pro Football Reference).
He wasn’t given a talented roster, but the Jets finished in the bottom half of every meaningful statistical category. Firing Morton may have been the first of many big (and smart) moves the Jets will make this upcoming off-season.
Some reports have also noted that Todd Bowles and John Morton had “friction” between each other. Keeping in mind Bowles was given a two-year extension just a short while ago, the Jets had a choice to make. Bowles may have wanted Morton out, not only for his own security, but for the franchise’s as a whole.
Players haven’t been ecstatic about Morton’s potential as an OC either. Some players complained about his style of play-calling, including a dispute between Matt Forte and Morton about not running the ball enough in Week 8. Others have expressed their concerns for Morton’s lack of in-the-moment play-calling. On multiple occasions he was found guilty of giving up or failing to be aggressive. It can be argued that this may have lost the Jets some games in 2017.
However, Morton deserves some credit. He called plays for what was supposed to be one of the worst offenses in NFL history. That offense certainly exceeded expectations all season long. Perhaps he will be given more to work with next season as many predict he will find a new job.
For now, the Jets join the league-wide carousel of teams searching for a new offensive coordinator. Reporters say top candidates include a few names. One is current quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who continues to receive high praise from Josh McCown and the rest of the coaching staff. Other candidates are ex-Steelers coordinator Todd Haley, and Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo. Haley has been utterly responsible for coaching one of the top offenses in the NFL, and DeFilippo has played a big role in Carson Wentz’ rise to stardom. Time will only tell who will call plays for the Jets come 2018.