The New York Jets have finally ended their offensive coordinator search with John Morton, but who is their new hire? Also, what does this mean for the offense?Call off the search team. The New York Jets have found their man. Head coach Todd Bowles said as much a little over a week ago, saying, “I’m pretty sure I know where I’m going.”
Hardly a stable position and early on it didn’t look like they could give the job away. This is their fifth offensive coordinator in seven years.
What John Morton lacks in experience (no prior coordinating expertise in the NFL), the Jets are hoping he can make up for with his strengths. As a former wide receiving coach for the New Orleans Saints, he certainly has a track record of developing young talent.
The trio of Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas and Willie Snead combined for more catches (242) and yards (3,205) than any trio in the NFL this season, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Young, talented wide receivers are something the Jets have for the first time, in a long time. Here’s a look back at Morton’s coaching career thus far.
- 2015-16: Saints WR coach
- 2011-14: 49ers WR coach
- 2007-10: USC WR coach/coordinator
- 2006: Saints Assistant Coach
- 2005: University of San Diego WR coach
- 2002-04: Raiders Assistant Coach
While Morton’s equipped with an impressive resume on the surface, it does lack a key metric: quarterback development. That’s a bit concerning because so far this current regime hasn’t proven they can get the job done, albeit a small sample size.
This means the quarterback coaching position becomes all the more important. It’s important to build a strong staff around your weaknesses.
So, what are some Morton tendencies we can expect in the new-look Jets offense in 2017?
The problem is, with limited coordinator experience (none at the professional level), it’s hard to tell how certain positions would do in his offense.
The biggest question mark outside of quarterback is the tight end position. The Jets might as well have just played with 10 players on offense over the last two years because they completely ignored the tight end position.
Last season the tight end position cumulatively hauled in 18 catches for 173 yards. While that may seem marginal, it was a huge upgrade over the year prior: eight receptions, 95 yards and one score. One touchdown in two seasons from the position is abysmal.
Just for fun, let’s look at his history with the tight end position in a Morton offense. Last season, Coby Fleener hauled in 50 receptions, 631 yards and three scores. But the real interesting stat was the 83 targets to just Fleener, alone.
Over the course of his career, the tight end position has been inconsistent. During his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers, he was in the midst of the Vernon Davis era. The pinnacle of his resurgence was during the 2013-14 campaigns.
All in all, his resume leads us to a confusing track record that won’t really answer these pivotal questions until next season — although a few signs point to the Jets running a west coast offense under Morton, indicating the tight end will be a higher priority on offense.
These two vacancies (quarterback and tight end) go hand-in-hand, as a tight end provides a security blanket for quarterbacks, especially young ones.
They have an intriguing talent on the roster in Austin Seferian-Jenkins, but at this point, that’s all he is, “intriguing.” Speaking of intriguing, this year’s batch of tight ends are certainly that.
The sixth overall pick being used on the position would be a surprise, but their second round pick is in the conversation.
Some names to keep an eye on as we get closer to April:
- OJ Howard, Alabama
- David Njoku, Miami
- Jake Butt, Michigan
- Jordan Leggett, Clemson
- Evan Engram, Ole Miss
When it comes to John Morton, the new boss offensively, all we can do is speculate at this moment.